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Schumann - The Complete Symphonies (Mahler Edition)

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 19, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra
complete their cycle of Schumann s four symphonies,
presented together in a specially-priced 2-CD set.
The Gewandhaus Orchestra under it s Music Director
Riccardo Chailly brings generations of authentic romantic
style to performances of all four Schumann symphonies.
These symphonies, recorded in the wonderful acoustic of
the Gewandhaus itself, include the revisions made by
the composer Gustav Mahler a lifelong supporter
of Schumann and his symphonic writings.
Since Chailly took charge at the Gewandhaus, the orchestra
has received consistently excellent reviews for their playing
and interpretations of the works of the great Romantic
composers. The orchestra was invited for the first time this
summer to appear at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall
and sold out the concert!
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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3
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4
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5
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6
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6:28
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7
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8
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Disc 2
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9:00
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2
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3
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4:26
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4
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4:51
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5
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5:33
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6
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8:36
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7
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4:03
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8
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9
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Gewandhaus Orchestra
  • Conductor: Riccardo Chailly
  • Composer: Robert Schumann
  • Audio CD (February 19, 2008)
  • Mahler Edition edition
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Decca Records
  • ASIN: B000YM4I4S
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,717 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. G. W. Brown on April 4, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Mahler got it right. Many small changes to the orchestration, here and there, make Schumann's Symphonies all the more enjoyable. He sorted out some weaknesses and lightly re-scored in places for even better results. This is super-polished Schumann, not Mahlerized-versions.

Having performed all of these symphonies with various orchestras over the years, it has been a delight for me to discover the Mahler editions, especially in these fine performances by the Gewandhaus and Chailly - ebbing and flowing beautifully, full of nuance and detail - most entertaining and polished.

You will enjoy these performances a great deal if you enjoy Schumann.
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Riccardo Chailly is doing wonders with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, finding hidden potential and reserves of excitment in the orchestra. He earned much priase for a previous CD of the Schumann Sym. #2 and #4. There was the novelty of hering Mahler's revised version of the scores, even though the touches seem minimal to all but the most experienced listener. But the performances themselves felt sleek and updated. Now we have the other two symphonies, the "Spring" and the "Rhenish" to fill out the cycle.

The same style is applied to the new installments. I'd describe Chailly's approach as reserved nobility. He doesn't allow the music to run away with its own Romaantic frenzy the way Bernstein does, nor does he clip its wings so drastically as Szell. There's lots of full-blooded expression here, yet the contour of the music is very controlled. Fans of Chailly will recognize and appreciate this control; those of us who love a more unbuttoned Schumann will be less thrilled. But with such good sonics from Decca and the orchestra playing so well, this new cycle stands out as one of the best in recent years.
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While reviewing a score of one of Schumann's symphonies, Bernstein jotted across the top of the sore the question "Whoever said Schumann couldn't orchestrate?!?" I tend to agree; despite some muddy passages in the third, Schumann's orchestrations aren't that bad when the conductor pays simple attention to balance. Bernstein was able to achieve great things in Schumann without touching the score and countless others, like Dohnanyi, Zinmann, and Gardiner, have shown us that Bernstein was not alone. Of course, that isn't to say conductors, like Szell or Barenboim, who carefully edit Schumann's sometimes heavy orchestration are doing a disservice. But Mahler took things further than a simple cleaning; there are some instances, such as the great horn call in the third, that are completely overhauled, and not for the better. Some of the opening fanfares in the "Spring" symphony's slow introduction are very un-Schumannesque and I cannot help but miss the clarinets at the beginning of allegro proper in the second. While not all of Mahler's choices are winners, he does succeed in presenting Schumann with a fresh face, and much of what he does is certainly an improvement. The texture of the fourth is much lighter, and for the better, while all the scherzos have more zest and bounce to their step. In that sense, any admirer of Schumann will find this release stimulating, if not necessarily authoritative.

With that out of the way, we can now turn to the performances themselves. On their own merits, they are spectacular. Chailly was always a good conductor of sonata form, but his tenure with the Concertgebouw has made him a real master of the German core repertoire. His sense of architecture and drive is really exemplary. Take, for example, the first movement of the third.
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How many listeners who are not musicians themselves knew of the Mahler Editions of Schumann's symphonies? While I know the symphonies well enough to recognize them each from just a bar or two; well enough to play them in my head, I never took the time to study their history or their place in the repertoire. I've always loved these symphonies, although I always thought there were weaknesses in the orchestration - the sort of feeling that is much more evident listening to Chopin concertos. I have several other recordings of one or another, including some by Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmoic Schumann: The 4 Symphonies, others with Szell and Cleveland Schumann: Symphonies 1-4; Manfred Overture, and one special favorite, the Rhenish with von Karajan and Berlin [Dg Galleria Catalog #: 419870 - [...]]. I was at first puzzled and then very pleased by the Mahler Editions, for the result seems more assertive, stronger. The edits stood out where the version playing in my head clearly diverged, yet in no particular instance was I negatively affected by the changes. I'm not qualified to say whether the Mahler Editions are "better" than Schumann's original versions. In short, I like both and would agree that if you love these works, having this set along with other performances is worthwhile. If for no other reason than the quality of the sound reaching my aging ears, I think very highly of these interpretations, performances, and recordings. What great sound Chailly gets from the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig!
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