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4.1 out of 5 stars
Schumann: Symphonies Nos.1 - 4
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This set, taken from live performances in Paris, is a disappointment after Nezet-Seguin's lovely recording of Tchaikovsky's Sixth. The sound has plenty of presence, but it lacks warmth -- and this, I think, has to be the fault of the engineers. The winds in particular, in the higher sections, sound over-bright and rather blaring. The performances themselves seem tidy and careful-- but I don't think that's enough for Schumann. I want a sense of propulsive motion, driving to an end that will make the individual movements coherent, and there is nothing as compelling as that here. Nezet-Seguin isn't any faster than Zinman in his 2005 set, but Zinman has the warmth and propulsion that this set lacks, and I would guess that his Tonhalle Orchestra is probably lighter in the strings than, say, the BPO or the Bavarian RSO for Kubelik, who is weightier and warmer (and a tad slower) with both these orchestras. I haven't heard Gardiner's original-instrument set (generally very well-regarded), so for me the best overall recommendation is Szell's Sony Masterworks Heritage set, originally recorded around 1958-59. The Heritage remastering is fine, and the combination of weight, warmth, and energy is just wonderful. For me, it's the best set on the market (though I haven't heard Dohnanyi).

Just for the heck of it, I compared Szell's and Nezet-Seguin's versions of the Third (Rhenish) to Klemperer's 1969 account (in K's "Romantic Symphonies" box). Klemperer is two minutes slower in the first movement, but it's a terrific performance -- unfortunately his First (from 1964) is dull. So -- Szell's the man, with Zinman not far behind, if you must have digital.
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on 15 March 2015
I had high hopes for these Schumann symphonies and certainly there are some good points. Certainly well recorded overall and, as I see another reviewer has noted, the performance of the 2nd symphony does work particularly well. However, looking at the recordings of the Schumann symphonies that are available, it's hard to recommend this set as 'the' one to buy. The recent (chamber orchestra) set on Linn with Robin Ticciati at the helm features some beautiful playing, intelligent insight and excellent recording quality. For a more robust sound the EMI set under Sawallisch, recorded in the early 1970s, still sets the standard (probably my favourite amongst all the complete Schumann symphony recordings I own) and hardly puts a foot wrong. So, overall, this Nezet-Seguin set is good - and in parts very good - but just fails to reach the top of the tree.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2015
A bit lack-lustre as far as interpretations goes. Nothinh wrong but is my breath taken away when I listen? There are better Schumann interps out there.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2014
Such satisfying playing of the greatest clarity, attention to detail and dynamism that is nothing short of delightful. The recording is crystal clear and the less-is-more approach of Nézet-Séguin is perfectly judged. Stirring music and an admirable achievement. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2014
great job!
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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2014
In a nutshell buy it if only for the second symphony which receives a terrific performance. The rest are equally fine. And it has seperate violins. Close but good recording too.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2014
Heavens to Betsy - here's another cycle of Mad Bob's symphonies with more on the way from Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. In a market awash with Schumann, what has triggered such a deluge?

I have yet to hear anything mandatory from Yannick Nézet-Séguin. So far, he has failed the Hotspur Principle: a summoning of the spirits from the vasty deep has been to no avail. I suspect he is a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom where zeitgeist is sovereign. A paternity test might indicate Abbado the Tame in his lineage. Wisdom suggests he should ditch the bottles of conditioner to become a Cappadocian monk for a decade or so; sad to say, that's not going to happen anytime soon. He covets Berlin. Aglitter with diamonds, the ghost of Madame de Pompadour says: why not.

Nor am I a fan of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Snazzy articulation is no substitute for having an innate Klang. Could one suggest it features in so many recordings because it's so much cheaper to hire than a premier orchestra? Will it ever be anything other than bland? Even its timpani is a half-punch.

So what do we have here? Frothy, energetic and vacuous readings with odd accents thrown in for good measure like raisins. I am tempted to say it's the Festival of Brisk Efficiency but that term has been trademarked by Jeggy. The biggest fails come at the biggest moments. Rev up that 1993 Ford Festiva - the first movement of the Rhenish is devoid of grandeur and momentum. How is this possible? Worse still, the key transition into the finale of the Fourth is bland. Schumann's fusion of eroticism and mysticism is woefully underplayed - there is no sighting of Priapus in the Spring Symphony. More widely, I cannot hear anything here that could not be achieved by mere competence where (diet) orchestral clarity is all.

Akin to the physicians at Endenich, if you want Schumann to be sane, zipped up (in the trouser department) and jovial, this is your gig!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2015
Marvellous
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