Schumann's Anniversary, Missed and Coming

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RebLem
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Schumann's Anniversary, Missed and Coming

Post by RebLem » Sun Nov 12, 2006 6:50 am

Somehow, we (I mean the whole music loving community, including record companies) seem to have missed commemorating the 150th anniversary of Robert Schumann's death on July 29, 1856. Schumann was born June 8, 1810, so in just 4 short years, we can celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Here is a question for you. What would you like the record companies to do to celebrate this occasion?

I, for one, would like to see some company come out with his complete solo paino works. So far as I know, there have been only 3 complete cycles, not always satisfactory. Perhaps one of the companies with a large catalogue of Schumann works could publish an edition with different pianists, and if there are a few works they have not recorded, record them for the first time with someone with a special affinity for Schumann.

I would also like to see someone gather all of Sviatoslav Richter's solo Schumann together from whatever source, and publish them all in one box. Looking @ the Schumann listing in Baker's, I find that he wrote an enormous number of works that have never been recorded or which have been infrequently recorded, especially in good performances. His two operas and the complete Manfred incidental music were the first to leap to my attention, since they were listed in the first category in Baker's list of works, but there are lots of other things, too.

So, what are your priorities for this anniversary? You get, oh, say, 5 wishes for this thread. :)
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Re: Schumann's Anniversary, Missed and Coming

Post by Sapphire » Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:05 am

RebLem wrote:Somehow, we (I mean the whole music loving community, including record companies) seem to have missed commemorating the 150th anniversary of Robert Schumann's death on July 29, 1856. Schumann was born June 8, 1810, so in just 4 short years, we can celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Here is a question for you. What would you like the record companies to do to celebrate this occasion?

I, for one, would like to see some company come out with his complete solo paino works. So far as I know, there have been only 3 complete cycles, not always satisfactory. Perhaps one of the companies with a large catalogue of Schumann works could publish an edition with different pianists, and if there are a few works they have not recorded, record them for the first time with someone with a special affinity for Schumann.

I would also like to see someone gather all of Sviatoslav Richter's solo Schumann together from whatever source, and publish them all in one box. Looking @ the Schumann listing in Baker's, I find that he wrote an enormous number of works that have never been recorded or which have been infrequently recorded, especially in good performances. His two operas and the complete Manfred incidental music were the first to leap to my attention, since they were listed in the first category in Baker's list of works, but there are lots of other things, too.

So, what are your priorities for this anniversary? You get, oh, say, 5 wishes for this thread. :)
As a really keen fan of Robert Schumann, I'd like to comment.

First, in the UK there was a sort of a celebration. The "Proms" this year played special tribute, by increasing the number of Schumann works. Also, one of the main classical radio stations had a 2-hour evening concert on the anniversary of his death in July. However, this was not enough by any means.

Second, there is a pretty good recent Ashkenazy 7 CD set of most solo piano works. It's not complete. For some inexplicable reason, it excludes Op 14 Piano Sonata 3, and Op 68 Album für die Jugend. There are few others missing too. On the whole, I like this set. It is studio based and largely blemish-free, with only a tiny few funny notes. Technically, Ashkenazy is brilliant, and I think most would be happy

Third, I'm not aware of any Richter studio recordings. All mine are live. I do find them a bit "noisy", and I'm not sure I fancy a whole boxed set if they're all like that.

Fourth, Ideally I'd like to see a complete set of solo piano by say Andras Schiff. I also like Berezovski, Pletnev, Argerich. The nicest piece I have is Catherine Collard performing Op 17, Fantasie. That is my favourite piece of Schumann, and this is my favourite recording. This might be a possibility too for a full set. Incidentally, if anyone out there doubts this man's greatness try Op 17. It's a completely different style from his contemporary, Chopin, but just as good if not better. Next to Op 17, my next best is Op 28/2 Romance in F Maj. This is only a few minutes but absolutely beautiful. Like so much, it was dedicated to Clara, and she loved it.

Fifth, perhaps, in addition a really good string quartet performing the complete set of chamber works would be nice (Quartet Italiano perhaps, if they are still going).

Lastly, I think most other material is well-covered. I'm quite happy with my Colin Davis/Murray Perahia piano con, and Sawallisch/BPO symphonies. No paucity of variants here. The Isserlis Cello Con Op 129 is a must.


Saphire

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Re: Schumann's Anniversary, Missed and Coming

Post by Sergeant Rock » Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:53 pm

Saphire wrote: Fifth, perhaps, in addition a really good string quartet performing the complete set of chamber works would be nice (Quartet Italiano perhaps, if they are still going)
Sadly, the quartet is long defunct (as is first violin Paolo Borciani: he died in 1985). Their last recording was in 1979, I believe. They did leave a recording of the Schumann quartets. They were coupled with the Brahms in a beautiful 3-LP Philips box. The set won both a Grand Prix des Discophiles in 1972 and the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis in 1973. I still have the box but I wish they'd appear on CD.

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Re: Schumann's Anniversary, Missed and Coming

Post by RebLem » Sun Nov 12, 2006 2:20 pm

Sergeant Rock wrote:
Saphire wrote: Fifth, perhaps, in addition a really good string quartet performing the complete set of chamber works would be nice (Quartet Italiano perhaps, if they are still going)
Sadly, the quartet is long defunct (as is first violin Paolo Borciani: he died in 1985). Their last recording was in 1979, I believe. They did leave a recording of the Schumann quartets. They were coupled with the Brahms in a beautiful 3-LP Phillips box. The set won both a Grand Prix des Discophiles in 1972 and the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis in 1973. I still have the box but I wish they'd appear on CD.

Sarge
I couldn't agree more, Sgt. Rock. I want that set on CD, too. The Brahms performances are available in an 11 CD Philips set of the complete chamber music; a companion box for Schumann's complete chamber music, including, again, the Quartetto Italiano performances of the quartets, would be most welcome. There is a cycle of the complete Schumann chamber music from Naxos, of course, which are pretty good performances, but they fall below the highest standard.
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Re: Schumann's Anniversary, Missed and Coming

Post by Harvested Sorrow » Sun Nov 12, 2006 7:25 pm

RebLem wrote:There is a cycle of the complete Schumann chamber music from Naxos, of course, which are pretty good performances, but they fall below the highest standard.
There's also a set by Brilliant Classics out there.

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Post by karlhenning » Sun Nov 12, 2006 7:47 pm

So has anyone recorded the Shostakovich orchestration of the Cello Concerto?

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Sergeant Rock » Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:34 am

karlhenning wrote:So has anyone recorded the Shostakovich orchestration of the Cello Concerto?

Cheers,
~Karl
We can only hope not :D

Seriously, I don't mind composers monkeying around with other composers' music...as long as we still have access to the original music. Schönberg's orchestration of the Brahms G minor piano quartet and Mozart's version of Handel's Messiah are both great fun.

Sarge
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Post by karlhenning » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:20 am

Of course, I agree, Sarge. I first heard the Schumann Cello Concerto live here at Symphony, and was delighted with the piece right away. I take Shostakovich's orchestration as an artist's creative engagement with the Ur-text, rather than "improvement" . . . you know, at about the time he was writing his own First Cello Concerto, Shostakovich gave the opinion that the finest cello concerto written was the Saint-Saëns A Minor concerto.

-- which I don't take as "passing over" the Schumann so much as generally reclaiming "lighter-touch Romanticism."

So I am keen at some point for recordings both of Schumann's original, and for the Shostakovich-Schumann.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Lance » Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:50 pm

It is amazing that some enterprising label didn't jump on this and take advantage of the Schumann anniversary.

I've been very disappointed in the "complete" piano music boxed sets, either on LP or CD, most notably the one issued on Nuova Era, the 13-CD set with Joerg Demus, pianist. I didn't find his interpretations particularly impressive and I didn't like the pianos he used, which were not always in perfect tune, nor did I like the acoustics. "Complete," I don't recall it was either. The old Vox edition with pianist Peter Frankl had much more to offer.

But then we have to be grateful for all the wondrous Schumann recordings that have been made available: the solo piano music with Moiseiwitsch, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Ashkenazy, Kempff, Richter, Aeschbacher, Cortot, Haskil, de Larrocha - and countless others too numerous to name.

The symphonies have also fared well over the years with Szell, Kubelik, and others in complete editions with separate symphonies given highly memorable recorded performances from the likes of Furtwägler, Cantelli, Boult, Giulini, and on and on and on.

The chamber music has fared very well, too. I can't imagine better performances of Schumann's Piano Quintet than the one given by Dame Myra Hess, or a Piano Quartet as magical as the one Glenn Gould recorded (quite a surprise, actually!).

So, if over the years you've managed to acquire some of these gems, count your blessings.

As far as integral editions are concerned, I am not always enamoured with the "complete" boxes issued by great companies such as Brilliant, though they are certainly excellent in many cases and a particularly good value for the dollar.

The plain fact is that we probably have far too much at our disposal. Having collected recordings since 1959, I have seen a lot come and go. Some that went shouldn't have, and some that came would have been better left in the can. Technology has certainly made a difference, with older recordings restored to lifelike brilliance thus giving a new generation an opportunity to hear these fine old performances. Stereophonic recordings from the 1950s and '60s have been given new life thus setting examples of great music performance for future generations. But too many companies have suffered, even the big ones like RCA, Sony, DGG, Decca, Philips, who have all merged. The last "greatest recording organization in the world" is EMI, who has probably done more for recordings than any other company. And there are rumors abou them wanting to sell.

How many more Beethoven's "Fifth" symphonies can be made with legendary orchestras such as the Boston Symphony or Berlin Philharmonic? One has to make a decision based on an artist you admire or one in whom you find special interpretive qualities.

I've said all that to simply say that we HAVE had some of the great recorded performances at our fingertips. We all know the industry is changing. It behooves us to gather these great recordings while they are available. If you have done this with the music of Robert Schumann (or any other great composer), then you should be vastly pleased with yourself.

Sorry - I really went off on a tangent. But THIS is the forum where we CAN do such things! :)
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Post by Barry » Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:59 pm

I celebrated a few years early when I saw Sawallisch conduct the four symphonies here at the conclusion of his tenure as Music Director.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:48 am

There are indeed many fine Schumann recordings available, but new ones that would interest me the most would be:

A top-notch selection of his little-known overtures by a 1st-rate conductor and orchestra:

"Julius Caesar", op. 128; "Hermann and Dorothea", op. 136; "Fest-Ouvertüre" based on the folk-song, "Bekränzt mit Laub", op. 123; Overture to "Szenen aus Goethes 'Faust' (no opus no.) and most especially the beautiful and thoughtful, "Die Braut von Messina" overture, op. 100.

Gardiner, Tielemann, Sawallisch and many others come to mind.

Also, there are still many piano pieces and songs that were never published----and there are also zero recordings of them. Would be nice to hear them performed.

More recordings of Schumann's dramatic "cantatas", like "Des Sängers Fluch", op. 139, "Vom Pagen und der Königstochter", op. 140 and "Das Glück von Edenhall", op. 143. VERY fine works---need to reach a larger public....would do wonders for Schumann's image. I have them----take my word for it---they are great late works.

Jack
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Post by paulb » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:38 am

I just looked at Arkiv's listings for Schumann. 1,886 recordings.
How is this not enough?
And I'm sure there are a few hundred others not on Arkiv.
My guess is that you will not see very many , if any new Schumann recordings. As this 150 yr celebration didn't even happen, which obviously should have.
Sorry for the intrusion and such a party pooper, I'll take my leave now.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:52 am

paulb wrote:I just looked at Arkiv's listings for Schumann. 1,886 recordings.
How is this not enough?
And I'm sure there are a few hundred others not on Arkiv.
My guess is that you will not see very many , if any new Schumann recordings. As this 150 yr celebration didn't even happen, which obviously should have.
Sorry for the intrusion and such a party pooper, I'll take my leave now.
Sounds like the proverbial "sour grapes" because Petterson and Schnittke don't have as many recordings and don't rank with Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms.

Can there ever be TOO MANY recordings of great works? The one listener wants Richter, another Rubinstein---yet another Ashkenazy---and so on.....

I would share your enthusiasm, Paul---if Petterson's 8th Symphony had more recordings than it does....

Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:24 am

Jack Kelso wrote:More recordings of Schumann's dramatic "cantatas", like "Des Sängers Fluch", op. 139, "Vom Pagen und der Königstochter", op. 140 and "Das Glück von Edenhall", op. 143. VERY fine works---need to reach a larger public....would do wonders for Schumann's image. I have them----take my word for it---they are great late works.
Thanks for the tip, Jack!

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:26 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Sounds like the proverbial "sour grapes" because Petterson and Schnittke don't have as many recordings and don't rank with Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms.
Expert diagnosis, mon ami!

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Sapphire » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:13 am

Jack Kelso wrote: A top-notch selection of his little-known overtures by a 1st-rate conductor and orchestra:

"Julius Caesar", op. 128; "Hermann and Dorothea", op. 136; "Fest-Ouvertüre" based on the folk-song, "Bekränzt mit Laub", op. 123; Overture to "Szenen aus Goethes 'Faust' (no opus no.) and most especially the beautiful and thoughtful, "Die Braut von Messina" overture, op. 100.

Gardiner, Tielemann, Sawallisch and many others come to mind.


Jack
Jack

My recording of the overtures is Lior Shambadal/ Berlin PO (on Arte Nova Classics). It sounds OK to me. They are very nice pieces. But this is not deny that a few other recordings would not be welcome too. Like you, I like Sawallisch. I prefer the latter's symphonies to Zinman/Tonhalle.

Why Shumann isn't more generally highly regarded baffles me. I reckon there could be a few Brahms fans out there who may not be too familiar with Schumann, and who would greatly enjoy a fuller investigation of the latter. This is how I came to Schumann: i.e backwards. You can see why the two admired each other.



Saphire

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:57 am

Saphire wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: A top-notch selection of his little-known overtures by a 1st-rate conductor and orchestra:

"Julius Caesar", op. 128; "Hermann and Dorothea", op. 136; "Fest-Ouvertüre" based on the folk-song, "Bekränzt mit Laub", op. 123; Overture to "Szenen aus Goethes 'Faust' (no opus no.) and most especially the beautiful and thoughtful, "Die Braut von Messina" overture, op. 100.

Gardiner, Tielemann, Sawallisch and many others come to mind.


Jack
Jack

My recording of the overtures is Lior Shambadal/ Berlin PO (on Arte Nova Classics). It sounds OK to me. They are very nice pieces. But this is not deny that a few other recordings would not be welcome too. Like you, I like Sawallisch. I prefer the latter's symphonies to Zinman/Tonhalle.

Why Shumann isn't more generally highly regarded baffles me. I reckon there could be a few Brahms fans out there who may not be too familiar with Schumann, and who would greatly enjoy a fuller investigation of the latter. This is how I came to Schumann: i.e backwards. You can see why the two admired each other.

Saphire
The Shambadal recording I have, too---and it's very good. But a couple of the overtures are missing. As you said, Saphire, other recordings would be welcome as well.

I have the Zinman/Tonhalle dics: the interpretations are not what gives these great symphonies their character, poetry, lyricism and inner meaning. Sawallisch is much better, Muti is quite good as well. Bernstein, Szell, Klemperer, Kubelik, Thielemann, etc. are fine for individual symphonies/overtures.

Brahms fans are sometimes Schumann fans, too---but there is a species of "Super-Brahmsians" that tends to pooh-pooh Schumann and belittle his significance.

Music-lovers I know here in Germany who know Schumann better than Brahms tend to prefer Schumann; I suppose it would be the other way around for those who would know Brahms better. Best is knowling both equally well. Generally, more Schumann works are performed here than Brahms' works (especially songs, piano and chamber music).

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by anton_jerez » Tue Nov 14, 2006 3:33 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:

I have the Zinman/Tonhalle dics: the interpretations are not what gives these great symphonies their character, poetry, lyricism and inner meaning. Sawallisch is much better, Muti is quite good as well. Bernstein, Szell, Klemperer, Kubelik, Thielemann, etc. are fine for individual symphonies/overtures.

Schumann is actually one of my favorite composers. Among the symphonies I rate no 2 as the best - one of the peaks in the romantic repertoire. Its a difficult symphony to pull of for a conductor. Thielemann doesn´t have a clue about how to play Schumann - far too slow tempi and little rythmic swagger. The same with Kubelik, specially in the first and last movements. Kubeliks finale hardly sounds like a allegro molto vivace. Among the best performances of no 2 is Harnoncourt (wonderful both in the scherzo and the finale) and Gardiner with his period instruments.

Antonio Jerez

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:08 am

anton_jerez wrote:Jack Kelso wrote:

I have the Zinman/Tonhalle dics: the interpretations are not what gives these great symphonies their character, poetry, lyricism and inner meaning. Sawallisch is much better, Muti is quite good as well. Bernstein, Szell, Klemperer, Kubelik, Thielemann, etc. are fine for individual symphonies/overtures.

Schumann is actually one of my favorite composers. Among the symphonies I rate no 2 as the best - one of the peaks in the romantic repertoire. Its a difficult symphony to pull of for a conductor. Thielemann doesn´t have a clue about how to play Schumann - far too slow tempi and little rythmic swagger. The same with Kubelik, specially in the first and last movements. Kubeliks finale hardly sounds like a allegro molto vivace. Among the best performances of no 2 is Harnoncourt (wonderful both in the scherzo and the finale) and Gardiner with his period instruments.

Antonio Jerez
Actually, the ONLY Schumann symphony where Thielemann got good reviews was the Third---which I have---and it is one of the best. I haven't heard Harnoncourt yet, but Gardiner is also a bit fast-paced for me.

My personal landmark favorite recordings:

Symphony No. 1 B-Flat, opus 38: George Szell/Cleveland orch.

Symphony No. 2 C Major, opus 61: Philippe Herreweghe, Leonard Bernstein.

Symphony No. 3 E-Flat, op. 97: Karajan, Thielemann, Sawallisch.

Symphony No. 4 d-minor, op. 120: Klemperer/Philharmonia; Müller-Kray/Baden-Baden Symphony Orch (radio perf.); Muti, Bernstein.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 7:05 am

I'd like to recommend one of the truly outstanding chamber music recordings of the past two years:

SCHUMANN: Works for Violoncello and Piano, with Daniel Müller-Schott and Robert Kulek (piano).

For this recording, Müller-Schott arranges the 3 Romanzen, op. 94 (oboe & piano) and the Violin Sonata a-minor, op. 105 for 'cello---as well as the beloved "Adagio and Allegro", op. 70 (originally for horn/piano). He also throws in "Mondnacht, op 39/5 and "Abendlied, op. 85/12.

Naturally, the Fantasiestücke, op. 73 and the "5 Stücke im Volkston", op. 102 are included.

Over 74 minutes of 'cello/piano heaven.

ORFEO C617041A This is a MUST for 'cello fans and/or Schumann lovers.

Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:59 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Brahms fans are sometimes Schumann fans, too---but there is a species of "Super-Brahmsians" that tends to pooh-pooh Schumann and belittle his significance.

Music-lovers I know here in Germany who know Schumann better than Brahms tend to prefer Schumann; I suppose it would be the other way around for those who would know Brahms better. Best is knowling both equally well. Generally, more Schumann works are performed here than Brahms' works (especially songs, piano and chamber music).
Levine is perhaps illustrative. He's already recorded two sets of the Brahms symphonies (with Chicago and Vienna); and between this season and next, he will perform all four with the BSO. But I don't believe he has been doing any Schumann in Boston (de Burgos is doing the 'Rhenish' next week).

Don't shoot the messenger,
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:11 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Brahms fans are sometimes Schumann fans, too---but there is a species of "Super-Brahmsians" that tends to pooh-pooh Schumann and belittle his significance.

Music-lovers I know here in Germany who know Schumann better than Brahms tend to prefer Schumann; I suppose it would be the other way around for those who would know Brahms better. Best is knowling both equally well. Generally, more Schumann works are performed here than Brahms' works (especially songs, piano and chamber music).
Levine is perhaps illustrative. He's already recorded two sets of the Brahms symphonies (with Chicago and Vienna); and between this season and next, he will perform all four with the BSO. But I don't believe he has been doing any Schumann in Boston (de Burgos is doing the 'Rhenish' next week).

Don't shoot the messenger,
~Karl
Well, Karl---I like Levine very much for Schumann's 2nd and 4th (Philadelphia Orch.). I'd buy his "Spring" and "Rhenish", too......most performing musicians love Schumann (pianists, 'cellists, singers and conductors especially).

The "Super-Brahmsian" syndrome is most likely to infect some music teachers and a certain group of music fans who enjoy quaranteening themselves in the ivory tower of the "Three B's"......

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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