Schumann: Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish)

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LABELS: DG Classikon
WORKS: Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish)
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 439 455-2 ADD (1977)
The Second Symphony comes off particularly well here. Barenboim brings tremendous urgency to both the first movement and the finale, and the Chicago violins truly revel in the virtuosic semiquaver passages of the Scherzo. I’m less convinced by the Rhenish Symphony, however. Some of the phrasing here appears a little stodgy, and the marvellous ‘Cologne Cathedral’ movement requires greater atmosphere and the warmer brass sonority of a central European orchestra to make a powerful impression. For this and many other reasons, Sawallisch (EMI) or Kubelík (DG) remain peerless in these symphonies. Erik Levi