Magazine article Gramophone

Zacharias's Chamber-Sized Schumann Cycle Ends

Magazine article Gramophone

Zacharias's Chamber-Sized Schumann Cycle Ends

Article excerpt


'Symphonies, Vol 2'

Symphonies--No 1, 'Spring', Op 38; No 3, 'Rhenish', Op 97

Lausanne Chamber Orchestra/Christian Zacharias

Dabringhaus und Grimm F MDG940 1772-6 (66' * DDD/DSD)

With this disc of the two 'named' symphonies, Christian Zacharias and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra round off their survey of Schumann's works in the genre. Many of my comments on Vol 1 (11/12) apply here, not least concerning the clarity and illumination offered by a lithe chamber orchestra as opposed to the Romantic behemoths whose property this music was for so long. I also remarked that 'if one wishes for a last degree of orchestral heft at climaxes, that's to miss the swings for the roundabouts'.

I'd reckoned without the 'Cologne Cathedral' movement of the Rhenish Symphony, where precisely that extra heft and a touch of brass 'glow' are just what's required. Invoking the same comparisons as last time, that's what's offered by the similiarly scaled Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the period-instrument Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. Both of those recordings evoke the grandeur of that Gothic edifice as it lours up before the Rhine-journeyer; on the other hand, Zacharias and his Swiss band witness the Hohe Domkirche as if through the viewfinder of a digital camera.

No matter: both performances are the equal of the Second and Fourth on the previous disc, their transparency of line helping hammer another nail into the coffin of the old trope that Schumann didn't know his orchestra from his elbow. …

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