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If you had to agree on a single composer as representative of German Romanticism, the choice would probably fall on Robert Schumann. What was Romantic about him was above all his preference for mysteries, his closeness to nature and his literary sensibility.
After initially writing exclusively solo works for piano, Schumann only turned to other genres relatively late. He was already over 30 when he presented the music world with a symphony – which met with immediate success. All four of Schumann’s symphonies have been effortlessly able to hold their own in the repertoire of major orchestras ever since. This includes the Second, which was influenced by Bach and is conducted here by Daniel Harding. Schumann’s Fourth was at first met with incomprehension: the novel through-composed form caused confusion, which is why the work initially disappeared in a drawer for twelve years before Schumann presented it again in a revised form. Simon Rattle presents the extremely charming original version here.
As in Schumann’s individual compositions, hidden treasures can be discovered in his work as a whole. One of these is the Concert Piece op. 86, in which four horns are able to shine in solo parts that are as striking as they are virtuosic. Another rarity is the Nachtlied for choir and orchestra, which impresses with its poetic mood, dramatic intensification and elegiac final turn. While the Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra from his late work is more of an insider tip, Schumann’s solo concertos for piano and cello have proved to be popular hits. Our selection features the legendary Martha Argerich as soloist in his Piano Concerto, which the Philharmoniker performed with Schumann’s wife Clara in 1883.