Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Christian Gerhaher, Robert Schumann, Nikolaus Harnoncourt|
Schumann: Das Paradies und die Peri [Hybrid SACD]
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Sure to be the first-choice version for a long time
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 12/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Schumann scored a huge public success in 1843 with this dramatic oratorio, adapted from an equally beloved poem, Thomas Moore's "Lallah Rookh." Although the themes are mystical and Middle Eastern, Schumann added not the slightest hint of Orientalism. Das Paradies und die Peri is one long sweep of beautiful Schumannesque melody lasting for 100 min. Which is both its blessing and its curse. There's no real structure in the telling of a fairy tale about a fallen celestial creature, half angel, half nhuman, who must perform a deed worthy enough to allow her to enter heaven. Victorians loved the work for its piety and gorgeousness; sadly, the Nazis adapted it to their own foul purposes -- extoling sacrifice for the Fatherland -- and more or less finished Peri off.
There have been intermittent stabs at a revival. To date, John Eliot Gardiner's 1999 live recording (DG) has led the field, and although his use of vibratoless period strings is irritating, he has the sparkling Barbara Bonney as his Peri. In every other way Harnoncourt's new recording far outshines Gardiner, so this is likely to hold first place for a long time to come. The orchestra plays beautifully, and among the vocal soloists Dorothea Roschmann is almost as captivating as Bonney. Only a few also-rans in the cast create stretches of dullness, but these are few.
Newcomers should be forewarned that beautiful music isn't the same as great music. This work is nevr less than beautiful, but it is so uniform in texture and shapeless as drama that taking it in over a few sittings isn't the worst idea in the world.
Here are the relevant details:
Das Paradies und die Peri * Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond; Dorothea Röschmann (Peri); Malin Hartelius (The Maiden); Rebecca Martin (mez); Bernarda Fink (The Angel); Werner Güra (Narrator); Christoph Strehl (The Young Man); Christian Gerhaher (Gazna); Bavarian RSO & Chorus"
Getting close to Paradise
P. Schmidt | Chicago, Illinois USA | 10/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Schumann's "Das Paradies und die Peri" is an all but forgotten composition by the master, and it has been thankfully given new life by this distinguished group of performers. The story is told in the form of an oratorio, although the subject is not taken from the bible. Instead, the story is one of middle-eastern/oriental derivation, and involves the child of a human and an angel (the Peri) who desires more than anything to be allowed into heaven, and her attempts to regain favor with heaven by performing good deeds on Earth. The orchestra, soloists and chorus are first rate and the recording quality is fine."