In his debut recording on LSO Live, Sir Simon Rattle conducts a stunning performance of Schumanns rarely recorded Das Paradies und die Peri featuring a superb line-up of soloists. Rattle is well-known for being a champion of this rarely-heard work, and yet this is the first audio recording he has made of it. Here it is brought to life by the LSO under his baton, and the starry line-up makes the best possible case for Schumanns great oratorio. Sir Simon Rattle says of the piece, Its the great masterpiece youve never heard, and there arent many of those now. This is just something else, a complete anomaly if you think about it. In Schumanns life it was the most popular piece he ever wrote, it was performed endlessly. Every composer loved it. Wagner wrote how jealous he was that Schumann had done it and hed stolen this subject that he wanted to do and how extraordinary it was It was a playground for composers and the piece was extraordinary. Based on an episode from Thomas Moores epic poem Lalla Rookh, itself inspired by exotic, colourful tales taken from Persian mythology, Das Paradies und die Peri reflects the 19th-century craze for all things Oriental. Completed in 1843, Schumanns secular oratorio tells how the Peri, a legendary creature, was expelled from paradise and follows her quest to redeem herself by giving the gift that is most dear to heaven. Writing about the work in a letter to a friend, Schumann said, at the moment Im involved in a large project, the largest Ive yet undertaken its not an opera I believe its well-nigh a new genre for the concert hall. Conceived in three beautifully sequenced parts, it is unlike any oratorio of Schumanns day. Sustained melodic invention is clear throughout, with Peris high C in the finale forming a deftly timed climax. Soprano Sally Matthews gives a soaring performance as Peri, showcasing Schumanns imaginative and emotive vocal writing, and there are superb supporting performances from Mark Padmore, Kate Royal, Bernarda Fink, Andrew Staples and Florian Boesch.