Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3 Rhenish (1850) [35:22]
Symphony No. 4 (1841/1853) [31:35]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Overture to The Flying Dutchman (1843) [11:36]
London Symphony Orchestra/Yondani Butt
rec. Abbey Road Studios (Wagner), 29 October 2011; Henry Wood Hall (Schumann), 2-3 November 2011. DDD
Yondani Butt, well-known for his recordings of the late Romantics, here turns to the earlier Schumann and Wagner on a disc of widely varying performances.
Schumann’s Third Symphony is perhaps his best-known and best-loved work in the genre. Butt’s reading is very relaxed and shows little variation in tempi between the movements. This approach is not a hindrance in the second-movement scherzo, but deprives the famous opening movement of most of its immense drive and the central slow movement of much of its charm. Things improve in the fourth movement, evoking the cathedral at Cologne and Butt’s treatment of the finale is one that any conductor could be proud of.
Butt handles the Schumann Fourth with a good deal more verve than he does the third. His pacing is less deliberate and shows greater contrast between movements. He evokes a real sense of atmosphere in the first movement and excels in the transition from the introduction to the first movement proper and from the first movement to the second. His handling of the central section of the latter movement is very poetic. The scherzo has a lot of Scumannesque charm, but not much contrast between its various sections. I found Butt’s tempi in the finale to be hopelessly foursquare and this dispelled the good impression made in the previous two movements.
Wagner’s overture to The Flying Dutchman appears much more to Butt’s taste. Here everything moves forcefully, with eloquent contrast provided by the theme associated with Senta. Butt seems to really be enjoying himself.
The sound in these recordings is extremely vivid and realistic. The London Symphony woodwinds truly excel and the horns, all important in the Third Symphony, are at least as good. The strings should also be complimented for their work in the Fourth Symphony. While Butt’s Wagner is very impressive, the same cannot be said of his Schumann, especially when it comes to tempi and overall direction.
  William Kreindler
Presentable, but not really exciting. The Wagner is better. Wonderful playing though.