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Schumann: The Four Symphonies; Genoveva & Manfred Overtures
Robert Schumann, Rafael Kubelik, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Schumann: The Four Symphonies; Genoveva & Manfred Overtures
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

Arch-Romantic Euphoria
Chosroes III | NC | 02/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My Schumannmania dates back a long way-- even before I ever heard a single note I knew I would love him, thanks to his bio, with its forbidden love, marital passion, duelling with the Philistines, and of course the inevitable descent into madness. But Schumann was an irrepressible, if agitated, soul, as is borne out by the idiosyncratic fervor of his four symphonies. The "Spring"s opening movement is one of those endlessly exhilarating experiences in art that never fails to give the spirit a kick-- without being reductively a piece of "program music," it manages to suggest the fructifying power of incipient spring-- even to tickle the skin with the physiological symptoms of "spring fever." And this is a quality spread throughout Schumann's orchestral canon, from which the immortal "Manfred Overture" and the rich "Genoveva" are also included on these discs. All are glorious, but it would be a pity not to single out the extraordinary "Adagio espressivo" of the 2nd Symphony, a movement which rivals even Mahler at his most transcendentally expressive-- and Schumann is not a child of the Wagnerian era. Nor can I fail to cite the shuddering grandeur of the fourth movement of the "Rheinish" Symphony, an interlude of intense pathos in that galloping, impish, lighthearted, always loveable work. Schumann is still a controversial composer, but perhaps I love him for all the reasons Nietzsche did not (with all respect to the sage!). His music partakes of a very youthful, tender Romanticism, imploring and transparent, and he thrives on stirring dreaminess."
Rafael Kubelik's Earlier, Legendary Schumann Symphony Cycle
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 08/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Fans of Deutsche Grammophon's superb sound quality will not want to miss this budget price two CD set of Rafael Kubelik conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in this critically acclaimed Schumann symphony cycle. Some critics regard this as among the finest Schumann symphony cycles ever recorded. However, this accolade should be given for the quality of the recording, not the performances. Although all of the Berlin Philharmonic's performances are first rate, they still fall short in warmth, enthusiasm, if not techique, in comparison to Kubelik's later recordings with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. In deferrence to Kubelik's later cycle, this one should merit four and a half, not five stars."
"The Poet Speaks!"
Sungu Okan | Istanbul, Istanbul Turkey | 02/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This 2 CD set has the most beautiful orchestral works of Schumann. Played by Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Kubelik, performed with sensitiveness, romantic. Still, Kubelik is a very succesful conductor especially in Romantic repertoire. As you know, Schumann's orchestration not so good as Brahms or Tchaikovsky, his orchestra timbre is too light and weak. But, the playing of Berliner Philharmoniker claims the weak orchestration of Schumann. However the music of Schumann is too romantic, passionate, dramatic, of course.

Symphony No. 1 named "Spring Symphony" written in a very short period, a few months. It was written with happiness of the composer and the inspiration comes from Clara. This symphony has a vivid atmosphere, especially in first and last movements. The Symphony No. 3 named "Rhenish" is the most majestic of all. Schumann was love the Rhein river and forest. There are typic pictures from a pastoral German landscapes. It is an example of German Romanticism. Especially in the 4th "Feierlich" movement, you will see what I mean. "Feierlich" means "ceremonial" and it pictures a ceremony in a Rhenish cathedral, very majestic. The 4th Symphony is the most drammatic of all of the composer's symphonies. It was completed in his last period, 1851, towards to tragic end of his life. This symphony to be constitued in a single movement, written as a symphonic-fantasia. Orchestration, as usual in Schumann, not too powerful, brilliant, it is a little weak, but the music is very romantic, poetic and has a tragic mood. Especially the first movement is a drammatic opening movement, the second movement is a lyric "Romanze" which I think has a musical diolag between Robert and Clara (violoncello solo and oboe). But in Finale, there is a glorious joy, contrasts to the dark mood of beginning movements.

There are two overtures, too : the only opera of the composer ; Genoveva, Op. 81 and the famous Manfred, Op. 115. The latter written in the last period, near to the tragic end of Schumann's life. And Manfred Overture has a drammatic mood, languish romanticism and really spine-chilling. May be the most beautiful orchestral work of Schumann.

The performances of Kubelik are really wonderful, surely worth to buy and listen. The recording comes from 1960's and quality is very good.

Highly recommended."