Concert

Programme guide

Over time how many composers have had a try at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust – and have failed more or less honourably! Robert Schumann is generally named as one of them. After all, with Scenes from Goethe’s Faust he wrote a work between 1844 and 1853 that until the present has led a shadowy existence in concert halls. But wait! Did Schumann truly shipwreck in compositional terms in grappling with the German tragedy for that reason alone? Or was his music quite simply not (yet) understood – then or now – by his contemporaries and by ensuing ages?

For Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who originally was to conduct this concert in the Berlin Philharmonie, Schumann’s Faust Scenes “are among the greatest music that there is.” Unfortunately, the conductor had to cancel his guest appearance with the Philharmoniker. Fortunately, Daniel Harding agreed to stand in for him.

Christian Gerhaher, Dorothea Röschmann and Luca Pisaroni take on the roles of Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles. In addition to other top class soloists, the singers include the Rundfunkchor Berlin in the performance of a work which moves between incidental music, cantata and secular oratorio. These are optimal prerequisites to (re-)discover – in Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s words – “the enigmatic, transcendental, ambiguous” in Schumann’s Faust music.

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