Schumann: Symphonies 1 & 3 - Gardiner
LSO Live LSO0844
Classical - Orchestral
Schumann: Symphonies 1 & 3, Manfred overture
London Symphony Orchestra
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
On 12 September 1840, Robert Schumann married the extraordinary young woman with whom he’d been obsessively in love for five years. Clara, née Wieck, was just 21 but she’d already established herself as an outstanding virtuoso pianist and a highly promising composer. Courtship had been long and painful, not least because of the bitter opposition of Clara’s father, Friedrich Wieck. Unstable and prone to alarming mood-swings, Schumann seems to have kept his mental balance during this ordeal by pouring out music...
In Byron’s Manfred many of the obsessions of the Romantic age cluster together, clothed in rich, compelling dramatic verse. Manfred is an outcast, noble yet tormented, godlike but tragically flawed ‘half-dust, half-deity’. What saves him ultimately is his heroic pride, leading him to defy both Heaven and Hell. Yet Manfred is also haunted by guilt for a sin he cannot remember. This turns out to be his incestuous love for his deceased sister, Astarte, but for most of the poem it is the namelessness of Manfred’s ‘crime’ his unconsciousness of the source of his guilt that makes it so poignant and intriguing...
In March 1850, Robert Schumann was offered the post of Music Director in the Rhineland port of Düsseldorf. At first he was apprehensive: he had doubts (well-founded, as it turned out) about his abilities as a conductor, and he remembered his friend Mendelssohn’s disparaging comments about the quality of the musicianship in Düsseldorf. It seems he was hoping for something more prestigious in his home city of Leipzig, or possibly in his adopted home of Dresden though the experience of the recent armed uprising in Dresden had made him understandably nervous. Even so, Schumann’s mood could swing suddenly: a trip to Cologne, just up river from Düsseldorf, later that month sent his imagination soaring. The magnificent Gothic cathedral thrilled him, and in September he made a point of returning to witness a procession for the enthronement of the city’s new Cardinal...
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