Schumann symphonies.

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Schumann symphonies.

I really like the Symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven and some Haydn too and would like to try Schumann.. I tend towards period performing style. Does anyone recommend a complete set that is not too romantic and old style. I have tried Gardiner in Mozart and Beethoven before but find him too brutal and unmusical. Herewegge has recorded all four but these are not available I think. Thank you.

RE: Schumann symphonies.

If you have such "nice' words for Gardiner, I don't think even Herreweghe would do any good, although he is milder and more prudent in his choices.

In any case, Schumann is so Romantic that any sort of "period" approach may deprive the works from their musical and esthetic essence. Probably, a pseudo-historically correct approach of the likes of Norrington (with his Stuttgart forces, on Haenssler) or Harnoncourt (with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, on Warner) might work for you.

Two other prudent and very reliable recordings could be: a) one of the Muti recordings (either with the Philharmonia, on EMI, or the VPO, now on Newton) or b) the Sawallisch with the always balanced and superb Dresden Philh., on EMI.

Lately, I enjoyed much the lean, clean, detailed and very well recorded P. Jarvi's vivid account, on RCA. Very balanced view of the works. It may work for you as well.

Parla

RE: Schumann symphonies.

I'm not able to recommend a whole cycle by the same conductor (I have a mix of versions), but very good versions of Symphonies 2-4 are by Furtwangler (#4), Celibidache (2-4) and Tennstedt (3&4). I'm sure the Sawallisch set is outstanding, though I don't remember it much. The Bernstein box (by DG) is probably very interesting too, and I love what Daniel Harding does with Schumann, though not much is available commercially (only some early recordings of Schumann symphonies, his more recent performances which you could hear on Radio are better). You can get Symphony #3 by Harding from a recent concert, and many more interesting Schumann works, on a recent very interesting Blu-ray disk ("Homage to Robert Schumann").

RE: Schumann symphonies.

I second Parla's comment on Schumann and his symphonies. Their 'old and romantic' style has proved refractive to period performances.  It seems to have been difficult to avoid "throwing out the baby with the bath-water".

My favourites are those from Sawallisch/Dresden, some of the finest recordings that conductor ever made, and also Rafael Kubelik's Sony recordings with his own Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (far preferable to his Berlin set from DG).

If you are looking for a tougher approach you could just consider Klemperer, though the third was recorded too late in his career.

Chris

 

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Schumann symphonies.

Sawallisch & Dresden (EMI) is a must, a nervous reading w/ great tension, far from the typical romantic approach. Bernstein is surprisingly good in his DG cycle, ganymede, I have it too, but I've seen many friends swear by his first cycle instead (CBS/Sony). Masur's cycle on Teldec has a good reputation too. This is it: any of the three above will do nicely imo.

Two others interesting cycles: Zinman's new one on Arte Nova deserves some attention as it got good reviews. Chailly & Leipzig Gewandhaus (Decca) recorded Schumann's symphonies years ago. I have the 2nd & 4th (Genoveva Overture is a great bonus) and I can say that they are fairly good  and have a great appeal for many: beatifully recorded! (EDIT: Chailly's has another appeal: he recorded the symphonies w/ the changes made/proposed by Mahler, known as The Mahler Arrangements).

 

RE: Schumann symphonies.

...and the beauty and humour of the delightful First Symphony, Naupilus. For the Third Symphony, I would call the First movement as a "grand design". The last three movements seem somehow compact, but I can agree that the Symphony, as a whole, is of "grand design". The Second Symphony has a magnificent large scale First movement too.

Bernstein is great but he really goes beyond any perspective or prospect of the works. However, he is very fascinating. I have the BIS/Dausgaard cycle. Very lean, refined but it lacks a bit of fire and passion. I found the recent P. Jarvi/Bremen kammerphilharmonie more exciting and to the point, in very bright recordings from RCA.

Gielen should be an interesting bet. I'll look for his recording of 2 & 3.

Parla

RE: Schumann symphonies.

Muti with the Vienna Philharmonic for me: he gets glorious playing from the orchestra, including rich string playing, and balances it so well that one never feels any need for Mahler-style re-orchestration. The opening of the 'Rhenish', for instance, is thrilling and he has a fine feeling for phrasing and structure so that one's interest never sags. I say this as one who has not always felt that Schumann's symphonies are among his best works.

Adrian

RE: Schumann symphonies.

Adrian, the Muti set sounds really interesting. I'm not sure I really need an 8th set of the Schumann symphonies, but it does sound tempting.  The VPO are in their element in this music too: I'm not normally a Solti fan but his Schummann with the VPO is also excellent (one of my 8). I must say too that I've always thought Gielen a most underrated conductor.  I've never heard his Schumann but I wouldn't be surprised if it fitted the requirements of the originator of this thread?

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Schumann symphonies.

@ Chris

Solti is actually my favourite conductor so, naturally, I have his Schumann symphonies. However, I must admit that sometimes his tempi seem slightly rushed and that the string tone is not as rich compared with Muti, though this may be partly due to the age of the recording. I am very happy to have both views.

Celibidache is also excellent in this repertoire, though his interpretations are on the heavy side and tend to give ammunition to those who think Schumann's orchestration is too thick. Again,this may be partly due to the recorded sound.

Adrian

RE: Schumann symphonies.

There have been so many recommendations for old style performance. Surely we have moved on and learned so much from period performance. The Zinman recommendation sounds interesting. Liszt complained about Schumann and his metronome being faulty. Surely that was a joke and he can be played as written.

RE: Schumann symphonies.

I'm not sure the old style/period performance issue is all that important as there are gains and losses on both sides. What matters most, I would say, is that a performance leaves one thinking how wonderful the music is.

Adrian

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