Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Manfred - Dramatic poem in three parts by Lord Byron Op 115
Manfred - Johann von Bülow; Chamois Hunter and Spirit - Stefan Wilkening; Witch of the Alps and Astarte - Tina Amon Armonson; Nemesis - Vera Bauer; Abbot - Dieter Prochow; Mechthild Bach (soprano); Elisabeth Popien (mezzo); Hans-Jörg Mammel (tenor); Hermann - Marcus Flaig (bass); Manfred Bittner, Ekkehard Abele and Tobias Berndt (basses)
Chor des Städtischen Musikvereins zu Düsseldorf;
Düsseldorf Symphoniker/Andrey Boreyko
Johannes Deutsch (direction and visualization)
rec. live, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, 2010
DVD region code 0; picture 16:9; PCM stereo
subtitles in German, English and French; NTSC
ARTHAUS MUSIK 101575 [89:00]

Experience Classicsonline

Byron wrote Manfred in 1817, calling it a dramatic poem rather than a play. Although there have been occasional stagings dramatic presentations of it now are extremely rare. Schumann completed his incidental music in 1848 and it was used for a stage performance of the whole work in 1852. Unlike, say, Grieg’s music for Peer Gynt or Mendelssohn’s for A Midsummer Night’s Dream there is little which can be played separately apart from an Entr’acte before the Second Act and, the Overture, one of the composer’s best and most frequently played works. It is nonetheless of high quality, and if Byron’s poem is not one of his best it is one of his most characteristic and certainly worth getting to know, especially with Schumann’s music.
For an English-speaking audience there will be a natural wish to hear a poem by one of the greatest poets in that language in its original form. Schumann wrote his music for a German translation but the few vocal numbers can easily be translated into English without noticeable ill effect. Like many others I first got to know the work through the recording conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, once available on a reissue by Sony but probably no longer available. That used a splendid team of actors more than capable of delivering Byron’s verse in a very convincing way. Maybe it will seem old-fashioned by the standards of modern verse speaking but it does suit the style and rhythm of the poetry admirably and is clearly audible and understandable. Beecham added his own orchestrations of other pieces by Schumann to cover sections where he felt a need for more music. They were well-chosen and did no harm to the structure.
The present recording is performed in German (with subtitles which generally approximate to Byron’s original), presumably using the same translation that Schumann set. Actors are heard but never seen clearly. The face of Johann von Bülow who plays Manfred can be seen for much of the time in a distorted form on one of the large screens behind the orchestra but the other actors can only be seen in distant view at the side of the orchestra. Much of the poem consists of a series of dialogues between Manfred and individual characters such as the chamois hunter, the Witch of the Alps and the Abbot. It is difficult to know who is speaking when they cannot be seen and lack distinctive voices. I found it helpful, indeed essential, to follow it with Byron’s original written text. This also helps to make clear how much of the poem is deleted - as it was also in the Beecham version. The main characteristics of this performance are the ever-changing and very colourful projections on the screen, apparently chosen by Johannes Deutsch to offer “a visual glimpse into Manfred’s inner world, with constantly changing images of the action and the settings. Above them - as it were his own mental images - hovers Manfred encapsulated in a globe”. However although this may sound an appropriate way of performing a work that lies midway between poem and play, in practice as seen on this DVD it is merely confusing, adding nothing to the text. The actors appear to have been amplified in the concert hall. The result for much of the time is a booming and unatmospheric delivery which sounds more like an address to a large public meeting than interior monologue or private dialogue.
In concentrating on the poem and the production it would be easy to forget the musical side of things which is on a far higher level. The Overture in particular is given a wholly convincing performance which sets up high expectations in the listener which are soon dashed by the dramatic performance and irrelevant visual treatment. The musical performance as a whole is more dramatic than poetic but does reasonable justice to the fragmentary score.
As recordings of the play and music are so rare I would love to be able to be more enthusiastic about this disc. I suspect that the concept may have worked much better when seen and heard live than it does here. Anyone fascinated by the work of composer or poet will want to add a version of Manfred to their collection, but I regret that this disc does not give an adequate impression of its beauties and complexities..
John Sheppard






















































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.