Robert Schumann’s D minor Symphony is one of the works which he revised in later years, thus depriving it of several brilliant ideas in the opinion of some critics. The original version was composed in 1841, immediately following the First Symphony. Schumann set it aside after the unsuccessful premiere, however, and did not publish the revision until ten years later, as his fourth and last symphony. Johannes Brahms published the original version after Schumann’s death, against the will of his widow Clara: “Anyone who hears it is of my opinion that the score has gained nothing from being revised; it has certainly lost grace, lightness and clarity.” An opinion shared by Sir Simon Rattle, who has preferred the first version of the work for several years and also conducted it at this concert in February 2009.
Several features of the symphony, such as the thematic connections between movements and the unconventional new emphasis on elements of sonata form, also characterize Schumann’s only piano concerto, composed in 1841 as well, which has been interpreted as a poetic declaration of love to Clara. Mitsuko Uchida, for many years one of the most loyal and closest musical partners of Sir Simon and the Philharmoniker, is heard as soloist in this recording.
The Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra, the third Schumann work on this programme, is rarely heard, despite its beauty and originality, because it is not easy to find four hornists for the demanding solo parts. As in several other programmes during the 2008/2009 season, compositions by Robert Schumann and Bernd Alois Zimmermann were also juxtaposed in this concert. The Symphony from 1953 is one of Zimmermann’s early works inspired by Arnold Schoenberg, and integrates the elements of the symphonic model with several movements into a single movement. Schumann strived for something similar in his Fourth Symphony. Thus, the two composers on this concert programme resemble each other not only because of their sometimes depressive temperaments but also in their relentless search for new forms.
13 Feb 2009
SIR SIMON RATTLE
Concert Piece for four horns and large orchestra in F major, op. 86 (21 min.)
Stefan Dohr Horn, Radek Baborák Horn, Stefan de Leval Jezierski Horn, Sarah Willis Horn
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor, op. 54 (34 min.)
Mitsuko Uchida Piano
Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Symphony in one movement (second version from 1953) (17 min.)
Symphony No. 4 in D minor, op. 120 (first version from 1841) (28 min.)
Mitsuko Uchida in conversation with Sarah Willis (17 min.)