Sunday, 10 January 2010

When Friends Fall Out

One heavily hyped anniversary year out of the way and the BBC embarks on another. I don't think that it will be such blanket coverage but the first BBC music magazine cover disk of this year is a 200th anniversary offering for Schumann. There are two works featured, the Konzertstuck for Four Horns and Symphony No 4. The performance of the Konzertstuck is from a 2007 Proms concert given by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras with horn soloists David Pyatt, Michael Thompson, Martin Owen and Cormac O Haodain. Schumann originally wanted a pair of valveless horns and a pair of what was then the newly invented valve horn. I'm not sure if this performance complies with that but it is a lively enough interpretation. Symphony No 4 ( Performed here by the BBC Phil this time under Gianandrea Noseda ) was heavily revised by Schumann, it would have been his second symphony but was withdrawn, worked on and eventually submitted as the fourth. These revisions were to some extent at the behest of Clara and when many years later Brahms sanctioned a publication of the original ( which he preferred ) it led to a spectacular falling out with Clara. This performance is of the familiar revision. I find it a powerful suymphony ( this is the only recording I have of the work ) and don't understand the dismissal of most of Schumann's orchestral output in many circles.

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