Schumann: Genoveva Overture

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Arthaus Musik
WORKS: Genoveva Overture; Scherzo in G minor; Abendmusik; Nachtlied; Requiem für Mignon; Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish)
PERFORMER: MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig; Soloists of the Dresdner Kreuzchor; Staatskapelle Dresden/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: 101 523

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This concert was given in the reconstructed Frauenkirche in Dresden as a homage to Schumann for his bicentenary, and much of the visual pleasure comes from the beauty of the building, whose interior features are lovingly used at key points in the music.

Especially striking is the counterpoint of the soaring dome with the brooding religious procession of the fourth movement of the Rhenish Symphony. Otherwise, it’s the standard television vocabulary for concerts, though not too distractingly busy in cutting between long shots and close-ups.

The acoustic of the Frauenkirche seems to be a problematic one: at least, that’s one way of accounting for the sometimes sloppy ensemble from one of the world’s great orchestras.

Closing my eyes during the Genoveva Overture, I wondered if it would ever have been issued as a purely audio recording, and, although things have improved by the end of the Symphony, there are still quite a few dangerous moments, and Daniel Harding often seems unwilling to give a strong impetus to the faster music.

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The Scherzo and Abendmusik were both reconstructed by Joachim Draheim, who provides the excellent booklet note, but they are slight pieces. It’s the choral pieces that come off best, especially the lovely Nachtlied: the four boys from the Dresdner Kreuzchor look a little uncomfortable in the Requiem. A pity that subtitles aren’t provided for these items. Martin Cotton