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RECORDING OF THE MONTH

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Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)
Symphony 1 op. 38 [31:22]
Symphony 2 op. 61 [32:57]
Symphony 3 op. 97 [29:12]
Symphony 4 op. 120 [27:48]
“Urtext” of the new Schumann Symphony Edition by Joachim Draheim (Breitkopf & Haertel)
Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie/Frank Beermann
rec. Lukaskirche Dresden, 15-20 Feb 2010; 12-16 Oct 2009. SACD
CPO 777 536-2 [64:19 + 57:00]

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Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)
Complete Part Songs For Male Voices
Die Singphoniker
rec. 9-11 June 2009, Kammermusikstudio des SWR Stuttgart
Full track-list at end of review
CPO 777 521-2 [61:00]

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Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)
Sammlung von Musik-Stücken alter und neuer Zeit
Works by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Adolph Henselt, Louis Spohr, Ignaz Moscheles, Pauline Viardot-Garcia, Johanna Mathieux-Kinkel, Leopold Schefer, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Carl Maria von Weber, Clara Wieck-Schumann, Robert Schumann
Johanna Stojkovic, Miriam Sharoni, Veronika Winter (soprano), Jale Papila: (alto), Jan Kobow, Michael Connaire (tenor), Ralf Grobe, Andreas Pruys (bass), Cord Garben (piano), Klaus Sticken (piano), Tilman Benfer (organ) & Hans-Wilhelm Kaufmann (guitar), Alsfelder Vokalensemble, Wolfgang Helbich
rec. 11 May 2009, Stadtkirche Bückeburg.
Full track-list at end of review
CPO 777 595-2 [3 CDs: 75:11 + 57:49 + 67:43]
Experience Classicsonline
The Schumann bicentenary has seen the expected issue of various celebratory boxed sets. There’s some bargains to be had for enjoyment this year and in years to come which happen not to be rounded multiples or divisors of 1810 or 1856. The boxed sets from EMI (200th Anniversary Edition), DG (Schumann Masterworks) and Sony (Schumann Anniversary) are well worth assessing and the DG set is perhaps the most sensational with the EMI Classic Die großen Chorwerke (9 CDs) as a captivating supplement.

CPO have, in their usual imaginative and industrious way, added to and reminded us of the sum of knowledge of Schumann. These three discs represent some of the diverse aspects of the music and the man.

In 1834 Schumann founded the music journal Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. In 1838 he began to issue with it a music supplement. Such supplements were far from uncommon at the time but were usually vehicles for undemanding scores for the amateur musician. Schumann intended something different and for four years (1838-41) these supplements became a force in the artistic land. The three CD set opens a casement onto that cornucopiac world. The music is by a range of contemporary composers favoured by Schumann but also included ten of his own works and two by Clara. The 76 works featured are short (between two and three minutes – a mix of songs sometimes for more than one voice and solo piano pieces and various organ pieces. The longest at 6:20 is Clara Wieck-Schumann’s Andante and Allegro which starts CD 2 with its swirl of romantic effusion. Texts are given as sung and in translation. The piano solos are largely taken by Klaus Sticken. For the lieder the pianist is the erudite and expert Cord Garben. Various singers have been engaged but the one who for me stands out for his golden tone is Jan Kobow singing either alone or as part of a small vocal ensemble. None of these pieces strikes me as a miss but let me commend a handful. Pauline Viardot-Garcia is another woman composer featured and Johanna Stojkovic sweetly encompasses the birdsong melisma and the florid operatic moments of Die Kapelle. Sticken lends stormy wings to Schumann’s Intermezzo. I had never heard previously of Johann Vesque von Püittlingen but his lied Die Geisterinsel pulls off a nice equipoise between love song and melancholy. The Beethoven Gesang der Mönche is a male vocal quartet piece here sung with a strong orange sepia tone. Henselt’s Der Dombau is for vocal quintet with two sopranos adding a yieldingly piercing cuckoo descant above the steady melodic refrain. Irresistible as to a degree is similarly modelled Schumann Rastlose Liebe for male trio. At the start of CD 3 we return to Clara and to her nicely rounded lied Am Strand from Stojkovic and Garben. One of Schumann’s most touchingly haloed pieces is his lied Mondnacht here sung again by Stojkovic. Back to a mixed vocal quintet and piano for Gesang der Sterne by Oswald Lorenz. This is an mystical and muscular piece redolent of the most volatile and exalted writing for the singers in Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. Rietz’s setting of Goethe’s Die Hexenküche has an awed yet youthfully enthused spoken introduction over the piano until the arrival of Jale Papila with her operatic smoulder. Schubert’s Aria (Des jammer herbe qualen) from Fierabras is for five voices and piano; it strikes me as one of the most ordinary of the 76 tracks. The trio of discs ends with Paganini’s unusually introspective and undemonstrative Stambuchblatt.

This set will perhaps be regarded as the province of Schumann specialists but in truth any music-lovers with a taste for the German lied and romantic era piano music will be pleasurably surprised to make so many discoveries and to add so many new names to their ‘to be explored’ list.

Die Singphoniker are a six strong male voice vocal ensemble. Their discography is ample with a host of discs recorded for Oehms and especially for CPO: di Lasso, Rossini, Mendelssohn, Michael Haydn, Schubert (5 volumes), Grieg, Kreutzer, one CD shared between Strauss and Reger and many themed anthologies, the latest of which – called Fragile – juxtaposes de la Rue, Sting, Eric Clapton and Knut Nystedt. In the present case they are augmented by an additional baritone for three songs in the Ritornelle op. 65 and by four horn players – a configuration familiar in Schumann from the Konzertstuck) for the five songs of the Jagdlieder op.137. There are five groups or cycles of songs plus the singleton, Mache deinem Meister Ehre W.o.O. 17. This is singing of the highest standard with an exalted caramel-bitters blend matched by the distinction of individual voices and the simultaneous precision of enunciation. Their breathtakingly calculated and executed haloed tone can be heard for example in Die Rose stand im Tau. The group can sing quietly (Der träumende See) as well as with a testosterone roar. Tricky rhythmic writing is rendered joyously articulate as in Die Minnesänger. Innocent bell effects are convincingly carried off (Frühlingsglocken). In Meeres Mitten ist ein offner Laden shows, not for the first or last time, how the gracious counter-tenor of Markus Geitner adds top-line lustre to the singing. For the late Jagdlieder op. 137 the four horns add a rampantly challenging and unapologetically assertive element to the singing and one which Die Singphoniker embrace with confidence and courage. The instrumentalists are not restrained by the engineers. Sheer decibel- production of the horns would be likely to outface most choirs – not so here. These five songs match exuberance, adrenaline and poetry with horns and voices vying in self-possessed union. Don’t miss them. All the words are supplied with translations laid out side by side. A very fine disc indeed.

The auguries are good for CPO’s Schumann symphonies cycle. It’s played by an orchestra bearing the composer’s name. Beermann has a great reputation having previously recorded for CPO the Symphonies of Fesca, Reznicek and Herzogenberg as well as the lavishly scored late-romantic Straussian scores of Herman Hans Wetzler. He has spent time perusing the Urtext prepared by Joachim Draheim which is used for this project. The use of Breitkopf and Härtel’s new Symphony Edition helps mark out this set from the numerous competition. We are told Beermann’s aim was “to produce an authentic recording; conducting the score just as Schumann had written it down and not having an interpretive opinion.” This provides a nice counterpoint to the oft-repeated commentary about Schumann’s incompetence as an orchestrator and the ‘need’ to make adjustments. In fairness, I am not sure that the differences are all that dramatic except at circa 8.29 in the finale of No. 4 where the stertorous rhythmic shaping seemed new to me.

At the extreme interventionist end of the scale Aldo Ceccato recorded the four symphonies with the Bergen Philharmonic in Mahler’s re-orchestration. These can be had on BIS-CD-361 and BIS-CD-394 or in a double: 2CDs for price of one as BIS-CD-361/394. These 1987-88 recordings are not to be confused with Thomas Dausgaard’s Schumann symphonies on Bis. Ceccato is not alone – there’s also a Schumann-Mahler set from the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Riccardo Chailly on Decca 478 0037 (2006-7). As for Dausgaard and Bis I should make it clear that with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra he has recorded all the symphonies and quite a bit more across three CDs: Symphony 1, Overtures: die Braut von Messina and Genoveva alongside the single ten minute movement of the Zwickau Symphony and the Overture, Scherzo and Finale (BIS-SACD-1569), Symphony 2, Overtures: Scenes from Goethe’s Faust, Julius Caesar and Symphony 4 (original version, 1841) (BIS-SACD-1519) and Symphony 3, Overture: Manfred, Hermann und Dorothea and Symphony 4 in its final version of 1851 (BIS SACD-1619). It’s clearly a significant set and well regarded in several quarters not least by BW. Mention of the Zwickau symphony reminds me that a more substantial version was realised/edited by Marc Andreae. The score details are Sinfonie in g-Moll WoO 29 - Zwickauer Sinfonie für Orchester C.F. Peters study score EP 8157. It was recorded in the early 1970s by Andreae with the Munich Philharmonic for BASF (BHM21421-4). It seems not to have been issued on CD. Andreae’s work on other Schumann scores has been published by C F Peters: 4.Sinfonie in d-Moll - Urfassung 1841 für Orchester C.F.Peters (on hire) and Konzertstück F-Dur für Klavier und Orchester (nach dem Konzertstück für vier Hörner und Orchester op.86) (C.F.Peters edition for 2 pianos EP 8576).

CPO accord their very best audio standards to this project and although I heard these two discs only in standard CD quality I cannot imagine anyone being other than deeply impressed. Whether it is with the grunt and zest of the first movement of the Spring Symphony or the delicate tenderness of its second movement, the stentorian rush of the third or the balletic lightness of the fine with the stereo separation of first and second violins making a telling contribution. Beermann brings out perhaps inadvertently parallel with Bruckner at the start of the Second Symphony. This is matched with the gloriously impatient scherzo which again revels in the left-right separation of the violins. The heroic galloping romp that is the finale is splendidly leonine.

The only transient criticisms might be that the strings are not quite as plush as some may have become used to and that in The Rhenish the French Horn bench could have done with a shading more audio-emphasis. It would also have been good if CPO could have squeezed onto the two discs the four-horn Konzertstück and the Overture, Scherzo and Finale. But these are trivia in the face of such exhilarating playing. Try the fifth movement of the Third Symphony – it delivers a heroic frisson. Resist the temptation to applaud – imagine having to keep quiet when the last note subsided in the studio. Beermann and his players pour so much into this that the effect of this Third is comparable with a really good outing for Tchaikovsky’s Fourth. The Schumann Fourth Symphony is just as well handled with diaphragm-shuddering attack and smoothly resolved joyous playing from the strings. The finale also evinces a clamant heroic fervour. In the last two minutes the victorious charge and fresh rhythmic élan that we experienced at the end of The Rhenish can be heard again.

It is typical of CPO’s uncompromising attitude to quality that the gaps between works involve long pauses providing a much needed emotional and intellectual full-stop.

This cycle is very much in the elite company of Vonk, Barenboim, Sawallisch, Konwitschny, Boult and Kubelik and has the benefit of use of the urtext, leonine playing and recording.

Rob Barnett

Full track-listing

Complete Part Songs For Male Voices
1 Mache deinem Meister Ehre W.o.O. 17
Sechs Lieder op.33
2 Der träumende See op.33/1
3 Die Minnesänger op.33/2
4 Die Lotosblume op.33/3
5 Der Zecher als Doktrinär op.33/4
6 Rastlose Liebe op.33/5
7 Frühlingsglocken op.33/6
Drei Lieder op.62
8 Der Eidgenossen Nachtwache op.62/1
9 Freiheitslied op.62/2
10 Schlachtgesang op.62/3
Drei nachgelassene Lieder W.o.O.
11 Schwarz Rot Gold W.o.O.13
12 Deutscher Freiheitssang W.o.O.15
13 Zu den Waffen W.o.O.14
Ritornelle op.65
14 Die Rose stand im Tau op.65/1
15 Lasst Lautenspiel und Becherklang nicht rasten op.65/2
16 Blüt` oder Schnee op.65/3
17 Gebt mir zu trinken op.65/4
18 Zürne nicht des Herbstes Wind op.65/5
19 In Sommertagen rüste den Schlitten op.65/6
20 In Meeres Mitten ist ein offner Laden op.65/7
21 Hätte zu einem Traubenkerne op.65/8
Jagdlieder op.137 part songs for male voices and 4 horns
22 Zur hohen Jagd op.137/1
23 Habet Acht! op.137/2
24 Jagdmorgen op.137/3
25 Frühe op.137/4
26 Bei der Flasche op.137/5
Die Singphoniker (Markus Geitner (counter-tenor); Daniel Schreiber (tenor); Henning Jensen (tenor); Berno Scharpf (baritone); Michael Mantaj (bass-baritone); Christian Schmidt (bass)); Philip Niederberger (baritone) (15-17); four horn players (Wolfgang Wipfler, Raymond Warnier, Thomas Flender, Dietmar Ullrich) of RSO Stuttgart des SWR (22-26)

Sammlung von Musik-Stücken alter und neuer Zeit
CD 1
1838
I Felix Mendelssohn Lied Das Waldschloss (Eichendorff)
Januar Adolph Henselt Klavierstück Rhapsodie (op. 4)
Louis Spohr Lied Was mir wohl übrig bliebe (Fallersleben, op. 139/5)
Ignaz Moscheles Klavierstück Präludium und Fuge
Heinrich W. Rieffel Lied Der Pilger

II Stephan Heller Klavierstück Drei deutsche Tänze
Mai Oswald Lorenz Singstimme, Gitarre Mignons Lied (Goethe: Wilhelm Meister)
Felix Mendelssohn Lied Pagen-Lied (Eichendorff)
Heinrich W. Rieffel Männerchor Ermunterung
Robert Schumann Klavierstück Intermezzo (op. 21 "Novelletten" Heft 2/3)

III Pauline Viardot-Garcia Lied Die Capelle (Uhland)
September Adolph Henselt Klavierstück Impromptu
Johanna Mathieux / Kinkel Lied mit Chor Trinklied
Ludwig Berger Lied, Lied 4st Andreas Hofer (Mosen)

IV Johann Vesque v. Püttlingen Lied Die Geisterinsel (Heine)
November Leopold Schefer Lied 3st Generalbeichte (Goethe)
Joseph Elsner Klavierstück (Bearb.) Trauermarsch aus Passionsmusik (op. 65)
Josephine Lang Lied Das Traumbild (Heine, op. 28/1)

1839
V J.S. Bach Orgel-/Klavierstück Fuge (BWV 575)
März J.J.H. Verhulst Chor (Bearb.) Religioso (aus seinem 145. Psalm)
Louis Hetsch Lied Abschied (Müller v. Königswinter)
Robert Schumann Klavierstück Gigue (op. 32/2)

VI Ludwig van Beethoven 3st Männerchor Gesang der Mönche (Schiller: Tell, WoO 104)
Juni Franz Schubert Chor Chor der Engel (Goethe: Faust, D 440)
Carl Maria von Weber Klavierstück VI Fugetten (op. 1)
Simon Sechter Orgel-/Klavierstück Contrapunctische Studien

CD 2
VII Clara Wieck Klavierstück Andante und Allegro g-moll (op.11/2)
September *** (anonym) Männerchor Chor aus Ossian's Gesängen
Carl Koßmaly Lied Mein erster Gedanke (Ludwig I.)
J. S. Bach Klavierstück Fuge e-moll (BWV 945; Urheberschaft?)

VIII J. S. Bach Orgelstück Choralvorspiel „Ich ruf zu dir“ (BWV 639)
Dezember Franz Schubert Klavierstück Andante c-moll aus Sonate C-dur (unvoll., D 840)
Adolph Henselt Klavierstück Romanze
Robert Schumann Klavierstück Fragment aus Faschingsschwank („Intermezzo", op. 26/4)
J. S. Bach Orgelstück Choralvorspiel „Das alte Jahr“ (BWV 614)

1840
IX Julie von Webenau Lied Eigne Bahn (Vogl)
März Ferdinand Hiller Lied Die Rheinmöve (H...)
Robert Schumann Lied Hauptmanns Weib (Myrthen, op. 25/19)
Lied Weit, weit! (Myrthen, op. 25/20)

X J. S. Bach Orgelstück Choralvorspiel „Durch Adams Fall“ (BWV 637)
Juni Wilhelm Taubert Klavierstück Präludium
Stephan Heller Klavierstück Toccatina
J.J.H. Verhulst Klavierstück Notturno
Robert Schumann Klavierstück Fughette (op. 32/4)

XI Adolph Henselt Chorsatz Der Dombau (Waldbrühl/Zuccalmaglio)
September Carl Koßmaly Männerchor Von dir so ferne! (Rückert)
F. Hieronymus Truhn Männerchor An die Kunstgenossen (Deinhardstein)
Robert Schumann Männerchor Rastlose Liebe Es-dur (Goethe, op. 33/5)

CD 3
XII Norbert Burgmüller Lied Frühlingslied (C.W. Müller v. Königswinter)
Dezember Ludwig Schunke Lied Gretchen am Spinnrad (Goethe)
Ferdinand Kufferath Lied Morgen (W. Müller)
Julius Becker Lied, 3st Männerchor Das Islamägdlein (Becker)
Robert Schumann Lied Distichen (Zimmermann, op. 27/5)

1841
XIII J. S. Bach Orgelstück Phantasie c-moll (BWV 562)
Mai Julius Stern Lied Unter den dunklen Linden (R. Reinick)
Lied Mein Herz ist im Hochland (R. Burns)
August Döhler Chor Gott sende deine Güte (aus Motette)
Robert Schumann Lied Stille Thränen (Kerner, op. 35/10)

XIV Mendelssohn Klavierstück Gondellied A-dur
Juli Clara Schumann Lied Am Strand (R. Burns)
Robert Schumann Lied Mondnacht (Eichendorff, op. 39/5)
J.J.H. Verhulst Arie Der Herr erhält alle
Chor Der Herr ist allen gütig

XV Franz Liszt Klavierstück Albumblatt / Feuille d'Album E-dur, Nr. 1 (R 64/S 164)
November Oswald Lorenz Frauenchor, Kl Gesang der Sterne (Reinhold)
Carl Koßmaly Lied Die Weinende (Byron)
Julius Rietz Orchesterlied (Part.) Die Hexenküche (Goethe, Faust)

XVI J. S. Bach Orgelstück Choralvorspiel „Oh Mensch bewein“ (BWV 622)
Januar Ludwig van Beethoven 3st Kanon Kurz ist der Schmerz (Schiller, WoO 163)
1842 Franz Schubert Arie, Männerchor (Kl.) Des Jammers herbe Qualen aus Fierabras (D 796/21)
Niccolo Paganini Klavier Stammbuchblatt

 


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