WORKS: Symphony No. 4; Vom Pagen und der Königstochter
PERFORMER: Hanne Fischer, Marianne Rørholm (mezzo-soprano), Roland Wagenführer (tenor), Dietrich Henschel (baritone), Bo Anker Hansen (bass); Danish National Radio Choir, Danish National RSO/Michael Schønwandt
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9846
For over a century and a half, Schumann was one of the most neglected of all the ‘great’ composers. But at last things are beginning to change. Interest in the late choral works has been growing, and surprise has followed surprise. It’s easy to find fault with parts of Vom Pagen und der Königstochter (Of the Page and the King’s Daughter), but the best music is haunting and vivid, especially the sweet-sad love-music for the Page and the Princess, and the bitter drama of the murder scene. A thought: did Wagner know this music – or Mahler?
Schumann’s influence on later composers is woefully underestimated. This performance has feeling and character; the sinister encounter between the King and the Page is gripping. The Fourth Symphony also comes across well, with plenty of muscular energy and purposeful drive in the outer movements. I’m not sure about the sudden shift to a higher gear in the coda of the first movement though, and after Günter Wand’s superb RCA version (perhaps the most majestic and tender performance of this symphony ever to appear on record), the Romanze sounds rather poker-faced. Recordings are good, if a little boomy at times in the Symphony. A warning: in the Symphony, the tracking indicated in the booklet and on the back cover isn’t even close to what happens on the disc. That’s not like Chandos. Stephen Johnson