Mark Jordan | Gambier, Ohio, USA | 09/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very valuable set. I have a couple of reservations, but frankly, this is one of the few complete sets of the Schumann 4 worth having. Most conductors handle Schumann's symphonies as if they were by Beethoven, Brahms, or Mahler. Very few seem to be able to find the elusive, magical world of this composer. Fortunately, Eschenbach is not one of those. Perhaps since he started as a pianist, he knows the real soul of Schumann, and it comes through quite gloriously in these performances. By comparison, Bernstein seems too overdramatic, Dohnanyi too grim, and Harnoncourt too dour. Szell and Kubelik get the feel right, but Eschenbach comes across as more spontaneous and warm than the former, and more energetic than the latter. The highlight of the set is the "Rhenish" Symphony (#3), which is the finest performance of the work that I have heard, perfectly balancing the textures and tempos with sensitivity and emotion, while never turning sleepy or routine. The others are almost as good, although the First Symphony is a bit less exhuberant than some. The recorded sound is good, although I would have liked it to be a shade clearer. All in all, a fine release from a conductor with very special insights into this music. Highly recommended."
Schumann superbly done.
Corno di Bass Trombono | Florida, U.S.A. | 09/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set includes the four numbered symphonies and the Overture "Die Braut von Messina". It does not include the original version of the D minor, or the two movements of the "Zwickau" Symphony.
Eschenbach is a natural Schumann conductor who knows how to use "rubato" with just the right give and take for these romantic works. The important repeat is taken in the "Lebhaft" of the first movement of number 4, but the links between the movements in this symphony are not observed(rarely is this done). While the "Spring" Symphony disappoints slightly in its more laid back approach, the others are among the best in the catalogue. If I continue to prefer the Sawallich set, this is still a most worthy effort in excellent sound."