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Thread: Schumann's symphonies

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    Senior Member tgtr0660's Avatar
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    Default Schumann's symphonies

    I've always had a special affinity for Schumann's symphonic cycle, one that is popular but never mentioned among the greatest of the genre. I think it deserves much better. The superb melodic invention of the cohesiveness of the forms are for me quite evident. It's probably one of my favorite complete cycles, and I have a few versions of it. I have the Bernstein (DG), Dohnanyi (Decca), Solti (Decca), plus 3 and 4 by Harnoncourt and Kubelik, and 4 by Furtwangler. I just acquired the Sawallisch (EMI). Am I missing any great ones? Anybody else here who loves this music as much as I do?

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    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    I've performed the 1st and enjoy listening to the 3rd. Bernstein's cycle is my favorite by far.

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    I completely agree, these great works have been much maligned in the past - not so much a case of poor orchestration as poor performance in many instances. I wouldn't be without the Sawallisch or Zinman sets (two very different interpreters) and have recently been listening to Neville Marriner's set, which is wonderfully light and quirky!

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    Senior Member NightHawk's Avatar
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    The only complete cycles I own are the Bernstein and the fairly recent John Eliot Gardener. I like both very much, however, the recording of a particular Schumann Symphony that I like best, is:

    The 4th (revised version) with von Karajan and Vienna.

    dg431095.jpg

    It totally eclipses the other recordings I have of the 4th.
    Last edited by NightHawk; Apr-08-2012 at 19:22.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    I like Sawallisch, Furtwängler - and Paray. Also have some Haitink, Kubelik, Gardelli and Abendroth, all less important.

    Celibidache has a lot reputation in this field too, especially as regards the 2nd Symphony.

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    I've never been able to connect with these. I'll be making note of these suggestionsand trying again with better performances.

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    The Donanyi was one of the finest recent outings... perhaps because the Cleveland Orchestra had an special affinity with these dating back to the classic George Szell recordings:



    I can't think of any recording of Schumann's symphonies that made it clear just how great Schumann's symphonies are as this one did. An absolutely essential set for any Schumann lover.

    The other alternative is the HIP recording by Gardiner:



    This was probably my favorite Schumann cycle... prior to getting my hands on the Szell set. The set includes the incomplete 'Zwickau' symphony as well as the rarely performed original scoring of the 4th.

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    I love these. I don't own a full set, so I am taking notes.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    these and the Brahms along with Schubert's Great are my favorites.

    like Karajan, Bernstein, Klemperer, Dohnanyi, Eschenbach

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    I have the Sinopoli/Staatskapelle Dresden cycle, on Deutsche Grammophon, and it's perfect in every way imagineäble (when I bought it I compared it to a few other cycles at the store and the difference was stunning).


    Has anyone else noticed how similar the first movements of Schumann 3 and 4 are to the first movements of Beethoven 3 and 4 (the thirds both majestic and expansive in heavy 3/4 time (also, both in Eb major, a funny detail), the fourths start both characteristically with a slow and mysterious intro)?
    Last edited by Bachonacid; Apr-09-2012 at 14:22.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StlukesguildOhio View Post
    The Donanyi was one of the finest recent outings... perhaps because the Cleveland Orchestra had an special affinity with these dating back to the classic George Szell recordings:
    Right. But the Dohnanyi/Cleveland set is really better than the Szell. I prefer Szell in his first (mono) versions, the stereo recordings are technically perfect (I've not heard any versions as this one actually) but frankly completely dull.
    Among complete sets (which are usually not good at all, and except for collectors I'd advise to avoid Karajan, Bernstein in both versions, Kubelik with Berlin or with the Bayerischen Rundfunks, or the horrible Zinman) I cherish Sawallisch but this is really not original at all.

    But Schumann's symphonies are best recorded isolated. For instance Karajan's live 4th with Staatskapelle Dresden (1972) is one of his best accomplishments on CD. Munch 1st with Boston, Cantelli's 4th, Toscanini's 3rd, are great examples too.
    Last edited by Discobole; Apr-09-2012 at 14:52.

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    I have had the Szell cycle for some time, but they really haven't had a huge impact on me. That is not unique to Schumann's orchestral works - I also find myself not much affected by his other works. Recently I also picked up the Gardiner cycle, and admit that it is making a slightly better impression on me, but it still isn't a symphonic cycle that I reach for frequently.

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    Senior Member peeyaj's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    I never did warmed up to the symphonies of Schumann.. T_T What's wrong with me?

    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6QUvSovobI[/YT]

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    Olias, which Bernstein Schumann set do you mean, the earlier Sony/Columbia one with the New York Phil. or the later DG with the Vienna Philharmonic ? The DG set has far more suave and refined playing by the VPO and better sound .
    I also recommend the very fine DG set , available on a low price two CDs for one set with Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic .
    The recent Chailly/Gewandhaus / Decca set is also excellent and features the versions re-orchestrated by Mahler, which are quite interesting .

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    I've never been able to connect with these. I'll be making note of these suggestionsand trying again with better performances.
    I didn't connect with 1 & 4 on the first listening. No.4 is actually an earlier work as the symphonies are not chronologically numbered. But 2 & 3 I found enjoyable from the get go. They are melodious and triumphant.
    "When a man is treated like a beast, he says, 'After all, I'm human.' When he behaves like a beast, he says, 'After all, I'm only human.' " - Karl Kraus

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