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.
Listen to an extract from Symphony No. 1: I. Andante un poco maestoso - Allegro molto vivace
About the Artists
Marin Alsop was appointed chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2019. Her extensive Naxos discography includes recordings of symphonies by Brahms with the London Philharmonic, Dvořák with the Baltimore Symphony, and Prokofiev with the São Paulo Symphony. The first and only conductor to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, Alsop received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award and was the first woman to conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms.
The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is known for its exceptional programming, combining 19th-century repertoire with contemporary works and rarely performed pieces from other periods. It regularly tours internationally, and its discography spans a broad range of cross-genre recordings. The orchestra has continuously expanded its repertoire and its international reputation. Marin Alsop has been serving as the orchestra’s chief conductor since 2019.