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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Schumann, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer – Symphony No. 3

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To conclude our three-part look at Schumann’s symphonies, I chose my favorite of his, the Rheinish. It was composed in1850, the same year that he completed his Cello Concerto (which was published four years later).

Schumann was inspired to write the symphony after a trip to the Rhineland with his wife Clara. This journey was a happy and peaceful trip; he incorporated elements of the journey and portrayed other experiences from his life in the music.

There are two forces at work in the Symphony – an essential formal conservatism and an exuberant rhythmic and melodic inventiveness. These two forces combine to give the opening movement tremendous swagger and swing. The three central movements function as interludes, capturing different moods and suggesting different scenes, while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements of the symphony for a scherzo and a slow movement.

With the finale, the animation of the first movement returns. Here, Schumann emphasizes rhythm and clarity of articulation (much of the music is marked to be played staccato), giving the music a propulsive lightness that drives the Symphony to its exhilarating, noble close.

This vintage performance by Klemperer and his “new” Philharmonia is capped off with the overture Schumann wrote for what we should think of as a “Faust oratorio;”. Schumann's music suggests the struggle between good and evil at the heart of Goethe's work, as well as Faust's tumultuous search for enlightenment and peace.

Happy listening!

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3 In E Flat Major, Op. 97 ("Rhenish")
Overture To Goethe's "Faust", A3, no. 0

Orchestra – New Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor – Otto Klemperer

Angel Records – RL-32064
Format: Vinyl, LP, Reissue


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