Schumann: Symphony No. 1 (Spring); Overtures: to Schiller’s ‘Braut von Messina’; Genoveva; Overture, Scherzo and Finale; Zwickau Symphony – fragment

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: BIS SACD
ALBUM TITLE: Schumann
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 (Spring); Overtures: to Schiller’s ‘Braut von Messina’; Genoveva; Overture, Scherzo and Finale; Zwickau Symphony – fragment
PERFORMER: Swedish CO/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: BIS SACD-1569 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Thomas Dausgaard presents a characteristically transparent account of the Spring Symphony. He finds exactly the right tempo for its finale – an elusive Allegro animato e grazioso that can easily lack charm if taken too fast as does Gardiner, or can miss out on symphonic tension if it’s too gracefully balletic, as in Kubelík’s otherwise admirable performance with the Bavarian SO (Sony). Dausgaard’s tautly-sprung rhythms also pay dividends in the opening movement, but his scherzo is rather sedate. Gardiner’s recording, more ideally paced in the inner movements, remains my benchmark. However, Dausgaard offers plenty of additional enticements. The attractive Overture, Scherzo and Finale, written shortly after the Spring Symphony, would have formed a cyclic symphony itself if Schumann had provided it with a slow movement. A still rarer item is the opening movement of a G minor Symphony written nearly a decade earlier – an apprentice-piece, rather awkwardly scored but full of striking ideas. The overture to Schumann’s opera, Genoveva, turns up occasionally on concert programmes, but the other overture here, to Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina, is unjustly neglected – a dark and brooding piece that shows the composer’s late style at its most profound.

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