Schumann: Symphony No.1-4
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin (DG)
(scroll down for English review)
DG’s homage to Barenboim on his coming 80th birthday, this is his third Schumann cycle in 45 years, after Chicago Symphony (DG) in the 1970s, and this very orchestra in the 2000s (Teldec). Some reviewers might take a comparative approach but I’m afraid I don’t have time for that.
The chief reason is that I was already surprised by the orchestral sound of the Spring Symphony. Some might demand a higher masculinity or sunniness, but I was amazed that the notes were unbelievably well-articulated. Even the strings breathed out their notes like the woodwinds did. There was no rush, nor any attempt to make the fullest sound.
If you dive in this set through the Fourth Symphony it’s very likely that you find it lacking in weight, but if you have started from the beginning this should be taken as stylish coherence. This is a new Schumann set which clings towards Mozartian charm than to Brahmsian grandeur. Like it or not, this is a recording that shows HIP isn’t the only way to achieve a novel sound.