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Schumann: Symphonies 1-4

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 23, 2010
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
  • Conductor: Armin Jordan
  • Composer: R. Schumann
  • Audio CD (March 23, 2010)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Apex
  • ASIN: B002S9USPI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,354 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
With so many Scrawny Toms on the prowl - Nézet-Séguin, Abbado, Rattle, Järvi and the infamous Ticciati - all of whom seek to dandify Schumann, it's time to visit a cycle which has been largely forgotten over the years: Armin Jordan with his Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (a good-sized outfit with a distinguished pedigree and Klang), recorded superbly in 1990 by the sadly defunct Erato.

I concur with my fellow reviewers: this ain't half bad. Indeed, it's a ripsnorter. When played like this, Schumann is as exothermic as Mozart. Here at last, the composer is no stranger to grandeur or the romantic impulses that so drove him as an individual. Name the determinants: eroticism and disquietude, heroism and longing - they're here in spades. Isaiah Berlin says it better:

"(Romanticism embodied) a new and restless spirit, seeking violently to burst through old and cramping forms, a nervous preoccupation with perpetually changing inner states of consciousness, a longing for the unbounded and the indefinable, for perpetual movement and change, an effort to return to the forgotten sources of life, a passionate effort at self-assertion both individual and collective, a search after means of expressing an unappeasable yearning for unattainable goals."

Yannick, Sir Simon, Uncle Claudio, Paavo and Robin - meow as much as you want but that's historically informed practice. Jordan is attuned to it. Playing Schumann timorously as an update of Mozart or Haydn ain't gonna cut it.

Not once does that hoary old scarecrow - Schumann's apparent ineptitude as an orchestrator - come to mind as one surveys this cycle. Just listen to the decorum and exhilaration - yes, they co-exist - in the finale of the Second! It's lucidity itself. And how well-paced it is!
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Format: Audio CD
Wow. I took a chance on this one -- because I frequently find recordings by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande to be excellent, no matter who conducts -- and I was definitely not disappointed. My favorite Schumann symphonic cycles are those of Szell and Masur with the Gewandhaus and Goodman's set with the Hanover Band. And Dausgaard with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra as well. This one, however, has verve and transparency, vigor and substance. Nostalgia draw me back to the Szell and Masur, and I love the orchestral sound of the Goodman, but this one deserves a place at the top as well. For the performances and price, it really is hard to beat. Recommended.
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Most reviewers of classical music contrast one recording with another. They are obviously more knowledgeable than I am. What I instead can say is that Schumann is an almost forgotten composer, and these symphonies (especially his last two where he really hits his stride) are a delight. If you enjoy Classical and Romantic music, make sure you own these symphonies.
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I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to all these symphonies. The performances are excellent, the sound quality of the recordings are all very good. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys these symphonies.
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