It was somewhat fitting that Daniel Barenboim, legendary pianist and conductor, should direct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for the recording of this late-Seventies box-set of Robert Schumann works ... fitting in two ways : Firstly, Schumann himself, began his career as a composer, solely in the sphere of piano music ; and Secondly, because Barenboim had established himself, in partnership with Otto Klemperer, in the late-Sixties, as a world leader, in the recording of Beethoven piano concertos - Ludwig van Beethoven cited as the biggest influence, by Schumann.
Schumann followed traditional models far more closely, in the thematic material of Symphony 1, than he had done, with the wonderfully intricate music of the great cycles of piano pieces, already composed. Also, certain passages in the First & Second Movements bear an unquestionable Beethoven influence, while the Introduction & Finale recall another of his symphonic heroes, Franz Schubert ; even his friend and rival, Josef Mendelssohn, would appear to have influenced Schumann, within his First Symphony.
Disc One, Side One : Symphony No.1 in B flat major, "Spring", Op.38 :-
1) I Andante un poco maestoso 2) II Larghetto 3) III Scherzo. Molto vivace 4) IV Allegro animato e grazioso
There is plenty of justification, for placing, what is now known, as Schumann's Fourth Symphony, on Side Two of Disc One : It was actually the second to composed by him, sans a few minor revisions, ten years later. It marked a decisive step forward, in the direction of him, seeking new solutions to the problems of the symphony, which he had already worked extensively on, within the sphere of piano music.
Disc One, Side Two : Symphony No.4 in D minor, Op.120 :-
1) I Zeimlich langsam - Lebhaft - attacca 2) II Romanze. Ziemlich langsam - attacca 3) III Scherzo. Lebhaft - Trio - attacca 4) IV Langsam - Lebhaft - Schneller - Presto
Schumann's official Second, is the most 'Beethovenian', as well as the most carefully fashioned, of all his Symphonies : There is the extensive use of counterpoint, and the concentration of musical elements, throughout the work, not to mention the middle section of the Adagio espressivo - unquestionably the most intensive moment in any of Schumann's symphonies - with its strict polyphony, which is an unashamed act of homage to the "old masters", obviously not just Beethoven, but J S Bach, Mozart and Haydn, among others.
Disc Two, Side One : Symphony No.2 in C major, Op.61 :-
1) I Sostenuto assai - Allegro, ma non troppo 2) II Scherzo. Allegro vivace 3) III Adagio espressivo
Side Two : 1) IV Allegro molto vivace
Disc Two, Side Two : "Koncertstuck" for 4 Horns & Orchestra in F major, Op.86 :-
2) I Lebhaft 3) II Romanze. Ziemlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend 4) III Sehr Lebhaft
The Third Symphony "Rhenish" in E flat major, does reflect events of its composer's life at the time, in a very direct manner : Schumann was experiencing a heightened sense of well-being, when he first took up his appointment as Municipal Director of Music at Dusseldorf ... In the First Movement, there is a domination, by a principal theme full of verve, while the restrained Second Movement, a Scherzo, contains a satisfyingly warm C major which radiates in a way that suggests a glance forward to Richard Wagner.
Disc Three, Side One : Symphony No.3 in E flat major "Rhenish", Op.97 :-
1) I Lebhaft 2) II Scherzo. Sehr massig 3) III Nicht schnell
Side Two : 1) IV Feierlich 2) V Lebhaft
Disc Three, Side Two : 3) "Manfred" Overture Op.115
Records graded visually to RRPG grades
(Disc One / Disc Two / Disc Three / booklet / box)
EX+ / EX+ / EX+ / EX / EX-.