Robert Schumann’s symphonies are deservedly popular, and today’s historically informed performances have brought us closer to Schumann’s original conception. Yet the undeniable quality of the works has always carried a question mark over aspects of Schumann's original orchestration. This album features performances of the first two symphonies that use Gustav Mahler’s subtle adjustments to the original scores. They were made in the light of instrumental developments and the increased size of the typical symphony orchestra towards the beginning of the 20th century. There are surprisingly few recordings of these revised orchestrations by Mahler. Symphonies 3 and 4 will be released early in 2023.
Robert Schumann’s works lie at the centre of German Romanticism, with an essentially lyrical style that reflects his quintessential place among the great German composers. From 1840 Schumann switched from writing, primarily, piano music and Lieder, to writing orchestral music, with the joyful First Symphony written in just four days, and the uplifting tone of the Second Symphony a remarkable triumph over depression and illness. But the effectiveness of Schumann’s orchestration in his symphonies has been the cause of much debate. Gustav Mahler’s re-orchestrations from the early 1900s provide models of tasteful modification that are suited to the larger orchestras of today.