On 25th June 1850, Robert Schumann’s only opera, Genoveva, received its first performance at Leipzig State Theatre. It was a much-awaited event, as Schumann, widely regarded as the leading German instrumental composer, had set his mind to the urgent task of creating a national opera. However, despite the efforts of the composer’s supporters to maintain interest in the work, the opera was soon forgotten. When conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt first came across Genoveva some 15 years ago (he subsequently recorded a CD of it in 1996), he voiced the opinion that “Genoveva is a work of art for which one should be prepared to go to the barricades”. Harnoncourt sees the main reason why Genoveva has not been recognised as a brilliant composition and perhaps the most significant opera written during the second half of the 19th century, as having much to do with the false expectations attached to the work. “You mustn’t look for dramatic events in this opera. What it offers us is a glimpse into the soul. Schumann was not interested in creating something naturalistic – he wanted to write a type of opera in which the music had a greater say.”
The Beethoven Triple Concerto is a strange work, with the most important–-or at least prominent–-solos given to the cello; it is the instrument which introduces each movement. The remarkable Martha Argerich wisely allows Mischa Maisky to shine in his solos and leading position, but her contribution is anything but back seat. Her customary virtuosity is everywhere in evidence, and, in a way, she turns the piano into the spinal column of the work, with the violin and cello playing around her. Every time Maisky is about to lapse into a mannerism which might detract–-too much sliding, a dynamic slightly exaggerated–-Argerich brings him back, and both of them play with handsome tone. Capucon's violin is recorded a bit stridently (this was taped live in Lugano), but his playing is equally stunning. Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky leads the orchestra matter-of-factly until the final movement, when he catches the proper fire. In the Schumann A minor concerto Argerich is wonderful the solo passages and a fine partner in orchestrated ones and she really makes much of both the lyrical runs and the dance-like passages in the last movement. Recommended.
June 8, 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of robert Schumann, one of the most important romantic composers of the 19th century. To celebrate his vast and impressive output, Deutsche Grammophon and Decca have compiled this 35-CD box set of his most important masterworks. Though this is not a complete edition, it includes every major work and a number of rarities covering every aspect of Schumann’s output.
Believed to have been composed between August 1775 and January 1777, the Concerto In E Flat Major for two pianos technically counts as being the tenth of Mozart's twenty-seven concertos, that huge and prodigious body that would set the standards for all piano concertos from Mozart's time forward. Although it is not performed with the same frequency as his later works (especially the final eight concertos, 20-27), this "Double" piano concerto, believed to have been composed by Mozart for performance by him and his sister Maria Anna ("Nannerl"), is nevertheless a fascinating experiment of Mozart's, one that requires a pair of solid keyboard virtuosos to do (and for the composer's Seventh piano concerto, you needed three soloists).
Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich is one of the most impressive musicians of his generation. Pianist Joyce Yang, youngest ever medalist of the Van Cliburn Competition, is a consistently electrifying presence on stage. Together these young artists produce a plethora of pyrotechnics and an abundance of musical imagination. This unique recital program pairs two 19th-century repertory staples – Sonatas by Franck and Schumann – with 20th-century fare by Kurtág and Previn, a combination Augustin and Joyce have performed to widespread acclaim in their frequent joint performances.
This is an excellent and bargan-priced collection of mainly late Schumann, none of which is frequently encountered in the concert hall. With some of the pieces this is with good reason: in the Requiem, and especially the Mass, Schumann's genius flickers barely at all - clearly his heart wasn't in religious music, and the result is dull and worthy, at least by his usual standards. Much better are the delightful secular oratorios, Der Rose Pilgerfahrt and Paradies und die Peri, both of which breathe the sweet springlike air of Romanticism which for most listeners is the true Schumann.
Haydn's Paukenmesse, Hob.XXII:9 from 1796, was the first work he composed to honour the name day (8th September) of the Princess Maria Hermenegild. The name of Paukenmesse’ (Kettledrum Mass) stems from the employment of timpani in the Agnus Dei; evocative of hearing the advance of the enemy. At the time of composition the French armies had occupied the state of Styria in southeast Austria.