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Schumann: Complete Symphonies
List Price: $45.98

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Customer Reviews:

  • Living Schumann
    Gardiner and the Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique bring new life into Schumann's catchy tunes. Brilliance, transparence, and lifeliness - based on precise rythms and appropriate tempi - open up new horizons of enjoying Schumann's touching and stirring melodies. You hear Gardiner and suddenly realize that THIS is the way Schumann should sound. These recordings challenge most other Schumann symphony CDs with its esprit and temper. Simply a MUST for all Schumann lovers and those who want to start with Schumann's symphonies....more info
  • Amazing breadth and scope
    I have never heard these peices in such a light. The originality and clarity brought by the period instruments is refreshing. As always, Gardiner knows how to capture the essence of the work and bring to focus its meaning and true beauty. Buy these CDs!...more info
  • A revelation and a must-own!
    Prior to purchasing this set, I owned two complete Schumann symphonies recordings, those conducted by Solti and Bernstein. I've never much liked either recording as both do much to perpetuate the myths that the symphonic genre was somewhat beyond Schumann's ability and that he was a poor orchestrator.

    Gardiner and the R & R have completely exploded these old Schumann myths. As explained in the excellent liner notes, Gardiner has trimmed the size of the orchestra and changed its seating so that Schumann's textures are clear and transparent. What is often thick and sonorally odd with the typical modern orchestra, here all is clarity; I hear lines, notes, and harmonies I didn't know existed in these works until I listened to this recording! These leaner forces increase rather than diminish the music's often forceful power, especially in the wonderful Symphonies nos. 2 and 4. Gardiner's tempi are on the fast side, but that's because I am used to modern, lugubrious interpretations. I also appreciate that the recording is not overly engineered: The soft passages are truly soft and the amount of reverberation is perfect.

    The inclusion of the Konzertstuck for 4 Horns (the difficult and highly expressive solo playing is stellar), the early 'Zwickau' symphony (with as many radical ideas as many of the early piano pieces), the original version of the Symphony no. 4 (you'll hear a different and extremely effective lead-in to the 4th movement as well as other differences), and especially the beautiful and rarely performed Overture, Scherzo, and Finale (a perfect symphony in miniature) are all wonderful addenda to the standard canon and more fully illustrate Schumann's conception of symphonic form and orchestral expression.

    I cannot recommend this recording highly enough. ...more info
  • Riveting.
    This set it absolutely glorious. All of the works are played with utmost precision, rhythmic security and great tempo choices. The period instruments add an extra degree of clarity as well as exaggerated dynamic contrasts and prominent timpani throughout. This is easily the finest performance of the Konzertstuck currently available, and one of the most exciting Rhenish performances on disc. If, like me, you're put off by Gardiner's sometimes 'too tidy' or 'antiseptic' sounding recordings, don't be here. I found his Beethoven cycle a bit robotic, but there is thankfully a much higher degree of personality to be found here. The one drawback is a lack of tension in most of the slow movements (especially in the 2nd symphony) that makes them sound a bit trite - for the utmost here you have to turn to Bernstein's DG accounts. Regardless, if you're looking for a beautifully put together recording of these works, don't hesitate....more info
  • Bright, colourful and fresh sound
    There isn't much more to be said about this superb recording. It does shed new light on Schumann's often underrated orchestral works and reveal him to be a better orchestrator than has been previously believed.

    The Concert Piece for Four Horns and Orchestra is a real highlight and it is wonderful to have all the versions of the symphonies. Gardiner's Orchestre R¨¦volutionnaire et Romantique are fine form throughout these recordings. One gets the impression that the members of the orchestra enjoyed playing this music.

    I recommend this recording to lovers of Early Music who love period instruments but haven't ventured far into the 19th Century and to general music lovers who may have passed over Schumann's orchestral music in the past.

    I hope John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre R¨¦volutionnaire et Romantique eventually get around to recording the complete symphonies of Schubert and Brahms.


    I should mention that The Hanover Band [on period instruments] directed by Roy Goodman also recorded the Schumann Symphonies for RCA. I like this recording very much, too. Both orchestras bring out interesting things in Schumann's works. Roy Goodman's brass players offer a slightly more pungent and 'tangy' timbre than Gardiner's players. Norrington and Herreweghe have also recorded several Schumann Symphonies with their period instrument orchestras....more info