Schumann

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janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

 

Also, Scenes from Faust crops out quite a lot. The BPO did it this season with Daniel Harding. Again - a masterpiece? 

 

Yes. Get the Britten recording.

Schumann choral works

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

 

What about his choral works? I keep coming across his Requiem - and something called the "Requiem for Mignon", whatever that is. Worth getting? Also, Scenes from Faust crops out quite a lot. The BPO did it this season with Daniel Harding. Again - a masterpiece? I'd be interested to know how it compares to Berlioz's Damnation of Faust, which is one my all-time favourite pieces.

 

Both works you mention (Requiem fur Mignon and Scenes from Faust) are sublime pieces which I warmly recommend - yes, they are masterpieces! I came to Schumann via his Symphonies and love the piano quintets (op. 44 & 47) as well as earlier mentioned solo piano music but then lost a little bit interest until I rediscovered him via these two choral works. For Faust, both the Harding performances and that by Abbado are wonderful, I don't know any of the others (eg, Britten, Harnoncourt). This work is entirely different from Berlioz' Faust, hard to describe, but in my personal view far more spiritual and refined. It is a musical rendering of Part 2 of Faust (so, Mahler 8 is another comparison), in my view the most moving musical rendering of this material. Absolutely recommended! Requiem fur Mignon is a short piece, again absolutely wonderful. I recorded a great performance by Harding from radio, but I'm sure some commercial ones are around.

Schumann's Settings of Heine

Very little mention has been made so far of Schumann's Lieder output, and yet he was one of the greatest composers of the genre, arguably second only to Schubert.

I have been fascinated for some time by settings by both composers of the poetry of Heinrich Heine, one of the finest of German poets.  Of course, great poetry does not always beget great music but Heine's highly musical verse (just reading it sounds musical) does seem to have brought the best out of Schumann.

Schubert came to Heine's poetry only at the very end of his life but the six settings of a short verse cycle by Heine, published posthumously as part of Schwanengesang stand out amongst Schubert's late masterpieces and always seem to me to foreshadow Schumann's two glorious Heine cycles, Dichterliebe and the Liederkreis Op.24. In particular the sequence from contented love to despair at the loss of love depicted in those Schubert songs and in Dichterliebe seem to have many parallels.  The two Schumann cycles have been splendidly recorded by Peter Schreier and András Schiff (Orfeo) and make a fascinating comparison with the Schwanengesang Heine songs recorded by the same pair, equally superbly, for Decca.  The two Schumann Heine cycles as well as other of his Lieder are also to be found on a very cheap (and it must be said very poorly produced - the poets' names don't even get a mention) CD recently released by Universal from their Mexico base! Gérard Souzay is the wonderful singer, with Dalton Baldwin.

I'd suggest either of these Schumann CDs to anyone interested in exploring Schumann's Lieder.  Unfortunately neither Orfeo nor Decca provide the (essential) texts or translations.

 

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

tagalie]</p>

tagalie wrote:

Yes. Get the Britten recording.

ganymede wrote:

 

Both works you mention (Requiem fur Mignon and Scenes from Faust) are sublime pieces which I warmly recommend - yes, they are masterpieces! I came to Schumann via his Symphonies and love the piano quintets (op. 44 & 47) as well as earlier mentioned solo piano music but then lost a little bit interest until I rediscovered him via these two choral works.........

Thanks. I had a listen to Scenes from Faust this morning - the Abbado/Terfel version. Absolutely tremendous - even on a first listen. I am really looking forwards to more.

I will have a look around for the Britten version later on, though I am little worried about the strangled yelps of Peter Pears.......

c hris johnson wrote:

c hris johnson wrote:

Very little mention has been made so far of Schumann's Lieder output, and yet he was one of the greatest composers of the genre, arguably second only to Schubert......

Chris

I thought you would have been recommending our old friend DFD..........ahem.

I am dimly aware of these cycles, Chris, but I don't know them. As for translations, I tend to use The Book of Lieder by Richard Stokes. Here, if you want to inspect. A gorgeous book all-round - 700 pages, acclaimed translations and very nicely bound. It doesn't have everything, of course, but it is still a pretty good selection. I just checked: it has the two Heine sets you mentioned. "In the wondrous month of may/ When all the buds were bursting into bloom/ Then it was that in my heart/ Love began to blossom........"

The Schubert song cycles (with occasional exceptions) tend to "belong" to male singers. Is this true of these Schumann cycles, too?

Finally, I do happen to know a few Schumann lieder - though only a few - but only because Iike Christine Schafer so much. As you know, she did a set with Graham Johnson as part of his hyperion survey.

Schumann and Heine

Well Jane, the Dichterliebe cycle is clearly intended for a man's voice. I'm sure a few women have sung it but the only recording I know of was made by Lotte Lehmann with Bruno Walter. Perhaps there are others: if so Parla will know!

The Op.24 Liederkreis on the other hand has been recorded plenty of times, in whole or in part, by women singers, most notably by Margaret Price - a quite beautiful performance.

 

You wrote:

"I thought you would have been recommending our old friend DFD..........ahem."

 

Indeed there's a story to tell about that!  Some friends and I have regular music sessions (not in the summer) and one day we decided to listen to Dichterliebe. First we selected three or four songs and listened to most of the recordings I have (half a dozen).  In each case it seemed obvious that DFD was supreme - so we chose to listen to his recording, with Demus.

At the end we felt underwhelmed and listened again, this time to Souzay. Magic! Somehow, though you learn everything about the music from DFD, overall it's just too much.  Probably we appreciated Souzay's performance the more for having learned so much from Fischer-Dieskau. It wasn't just me: all of us felt the same. Incidentally, one of the recordings we tested was with Eberhard Waechter and a young Alfred Brendel - a fine performance indeed and much more impressive than you might have expected.

Ultimately, I think the combination of Heine's so musical poetry and Schumann's very poetic music is not best served by DFD's style.  With, say, Hugo Wolf it's quite another matter.

Oh well! That was going to be a short answer to your question!

 

Chris

 

Chris A.Gnostic

Schumann's Lieder for female singers.

There are many issues raised already, but, for the moment, let me say (and I'm sure Chris can elaborate further) that Schumann wrote nearly 180 songs, out of which many can suit perfectly to woman's voices. The most celebrated and one of the greatest cycles ever written for a woman's voice is Schumann's Frauenliebe und leben, Op.42. Almost every singer dealing with lieder has tried to tackle this treasure of female singing. The refine Elly Ameling (on Philips, originally), the superb Margaret Price (on Forlane), the glorious Janet Baker (on Regis now), the beautiful voice of Anne Sofie von Otter (on DG) and the always very good Bernada Fink (recently on HM) are only few names I can mention here. Then, there are at least 3 more discs, with various lieder, with Margaret Price (on Forlane again, Orfeo and old EMI), 2 from Nathalie Stutzmann (on RCA), a couple from the substantive Lucia Popp (RCA), a live from I. Seefried (on Orfeo) and one from the lovely voice of B. Bonney (with Ashkenazy), on Decca.

These are only few notable examples to show that female singers love to sing Schumann's numerous songs, in recitals or cycles of songs.

By the way, I believe the 4 cycles on poems of Heine (Liederkreis, Op.24 and Dichterliebe, Op.48), the Frauenliebe und leben, Op.42 and the Liederkreis, Op.39, on poems of Eichendorff are some of the greatest glories of the German Lied and of the Art of Song, in general.

And being in full agreement with Chris, Schumann is at least interesting in every genre he composed, but, after his Piano Music (where he truly excelled more than any other genre), his vast Lied production was his second greatest and most solid achievement.

Parla

Schumann's Dichterliebe for female voices.

Intrestingly, apart from the hstoric recordings of Lehmann, there are at least three more female singers who have recorded Dichterliebe (Op.48): Barbara Bonney with A, Pappano (on Decca), the Canadian Lois Marshall (on CBC) and the beloved by Jane C. Schaffer, in a DVD by Arthaus. 

The exciting news is that even counter-tenors have recorded this cycle: a) Jochen Kowalski (on Cappricio) and Paul Esswood (!), on Hungaroton (years ago).

By the way, Hyperion, in the complete series of the Lieder by Schumann, had used a good number of first-rate female singers, in quite a few of its 10 Volumes.

Parla

While I don't read absolutely

While I don't read absolutely everything posted on this forum, I do read a high proportion of it. An awful lot of postings whinge about Parla. I've just read his two contributions immediately above, and I can't for the life of me see what there is to complain about, here at least?

pgraber wrote:

pgraber wrote:

While I don't read absolutely everything posted on this forum, I do read a high proportion of it. An awful lot of postings whinge about Parla. I've just read his two contributions immediately above, and I can't for the life of me see what there is to complain about, here at least?

Agreed, Paul. I found them very useful and will respond later on. Though at the risk of sounding bossy, we really need to confine this kind of discussion to a different non-music thread. (That last thing we want is for others to jump in here and de-rail things before they have got going again - either with negative OR positive comments.) I am sure you appreciate why I am saying this..........

best wishes, Jane

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