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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3 Rhenish (1850) [33:15]
Overture, Scherzo and Finale (1841 rev. 1845) [17:45]
Symphonic Studies: Adagio and Allegro brillante (orch. Tchaikovsky) [8:10]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Dirk Joeres
rec. Walthamstow Town Hall, London, December 1999 (Sym); Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London, January 1995 (Overture, Scherzo and Finale); Watford Town Hall, England, June 2003 (Symphonic Studies). DDD
REGIS RRC 1237 [60:00]
2006 marks the sesquicentenary of Schumann’s death. Perhaps in recognition of this Regis have issued this impressive, imaginative reading by a less celebrated conductor who can easily stand comparison with any A-list conductors.
The most interesting item in this programme is Joeresí world premiere recording of Tchaikovskyís orchestrations of the final two parts of Schumannís Etudes Symphoniques Op. 13. These, so faithful to Schumannís style, if a little more colourful, were student exercises for Tchaikovsky. The lovely but brief Adagio is wistful and a little mysterious; the Allegro brillante bustling and joyous. Its fresh, out-of-doors spirit is very much akin to that of the composerís Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op. 52. Of the recording here the Overture moves eloquently through its dappled sunshine. Its phrasing is elegant, its rhythms springy. Joeresí carefree Scherzo vivo canters away blissfully while his Finale - Allegro molto vivace, after its portentous opening bars, scurries merrily away before the entry of Schumannís sublime lyrical melody.
The main item in the programme, Schumannís warmest, five-movement Rhenish Symphony has some three dozen recordings currently listed in the catalogues. This exultant reading by Joeres can hold its own with the best of them (see below for recent reviews of other recordings of the symphony). His exciting vision is as fresh as springtime leaves. In the outer movements it is so spontaneous-sounding, the music pointed so infectiously, the rhythms springy, the phrasing rapt and there is just the right amount of joyous abandon. The brass chorales and fanfares sounding across the stage are, especially in the coda of the concluding movement, quite thrilling. In between, the broad rhythms of the rather solemn, second, scherzo movement suggest the pitching and rolling of a mighty river. The lighter tripping measures might depict, as James Murrayís notes suggest, a pleasant river-boat trip and vintage festivities. The lovely slow movementís coy tenderness is nicely caught. It contrasts with the solemn dignity of the fourth movement inspired by the celebrations surrounding the appointment of the Archbishop of Cologne to the rank of Cardinal. In fact Schumann is said to have received his first inspiration for this Symphony by the sight of Cologne Cathedral.
Fresh invigorating readings that can hold their own with the best in a crowded list of competitive recordings.
Ian Lace



Some recent reviews of recordings of the Rhenish Symphony
Barenboim/Staatskapelle Berlin - review by Rob Barnett
Szell/Cleveland O - review by Rob Barnett
Bernstein/Vienna PO - review by Michael Cookson
Zinman/Tonhalle O - review by John Phillips


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