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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in C major, Op. 131 [15:56]
Violin Concerto in D minor [32:12]
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (version of the Cello Concerto in A minor made by the composer) [21:39]
Three arrangements from Op.85 for Violin and Orchestra: Garden Melody (arr. Ernst Rudorff) [3:19]; At the Fountain (arr. Ernst Rudorff) [3:12]; Evening Song (arr. Joseph Joachim) [2:57]
Lena Neudauer (violin), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie / Pablo González
rec. 2010, Funkhaus Halberg, Saarbrücken, Germany
SWR MUSIC SWR19422CD [79:15]

This CD is marketed with the title “Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra”. However, the only two works originally composed for the violin are the Fantasy in C and the Violin Concerto in D minor. Both of these works were written for Schumann’s close friend Joseph Joachim. The rest of the programme consists of the composer’s own transcription of the Cello Concerto in A minor and three arrangements from the Op 85 piano duet pieces.

It is hard to understand why the Fantasy is so neglected. It’s a brilliant concert piece with a cheerful disposition. It also includes many moments of the gentle melancholy that is so typical of Schumann. Maybe it isn’t showy enough to attract the attention of today’s star players but musically it is a lovely piece. The Violin Concerto in D minor was the composer’s final work for orchestra. This recording is the first to use the Urtext edition, published in 2009. The first movement has a lyrical and memorable melody. The numerous figurations for the solo violin that run through the movement were inspired by the composer’s admiration of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas. The slow movement is meltingly beautiful and heart-warming. The somewhat rambling finale recalls themes from the first two movements. The music is capricious, sparkling and radiant. This is a marvellous concerto that deserves more recognition and exposure. Its main problem is that it is overshadowed by the composer’s popular and more memorable Piano Concerto.

The Cello Concerto received minimal interest from cellists during Schumann’s life. Due to this indifference he made his own violin arrangement for Joseph Joachim. It was discovered by Joachim Draheim in the Hamburg State Library in 1987. Today, of course, the Cello Concerto is a familiar repertoire piece but it is still of considerable interest to hear the composer’s own version for violin. Listened to without any bias or preconceptions the concerto works very well in this transcription. There are some passages where the higher register brings something new to the concerto. It sounds brighter and somehow more sprightly. In other passages the dark hue of the cello tone, with its Autumnal glow, is sadly missed. Overall this is a novelty that doesn’t in any way supersede the original.

The three arrangements for violin of some of Schumann's piano pieces make their disc debut in this recording. Garden Melody has a tune that immediately brings to mind the slow movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. At the Fountain is bustling scherzo, completely re-energised in this arrangement. Evening Song brings the disc to a touching close.

Throughout the programme Lena Neudauer show herself to be a player who can bring some depth and insight into Schumann’s sound world. Her playing is stylish and sensitive and she has the ability to produce a hushed, inward tone for the atmospheric moments of melancholy. The more brilliant passages are confident and faultless. The orchestra provides her with excellent support in a recording of refinement and clarity. The booklet notes by the Schumann scholar Joachim Draheim are exemplary.

John Whitmore

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