With this pairing, Christoph Spering continues his exploration of some of the byways of the choral and vocal repertoire. Schumann’s choral music is desperately neglected, even by the standards of a composer who is still often misunderstood. That said, the two works recorded here don’t perhaps on paper present his best side. Richard Wigmore has described Der Rose Pilgerfahrt (‘The Pilgrimage of the Rose’) as ‘German Romanticism at its most sickly sweet’ (3/11) and it is clear how the tale of a rose becoming human to experience love might appeal more to 19th-century sensibilities than to our own.
This is an excellent and bargan-priced collection of mainly late Schumann, none of which is frequently encountered in the concert hall. With some of the pieces this is with good reason: in the Requiem, and especially the Mass, Schumann's genius flickers barely at all - clearly his heart wasn't in religious music, and the result is dull and worthy, at least by his usual standards. Much better are the delightful secular oratorios, Der Rose Pilgerfahrt and Paradies und die Peri, both of which breathe the sweet springlike air of Romanticism which for most listeners is the true Schumann.
SOMM RECORDINGS announces the release of Kathleen Ferrier in New York, historic performances of Mahler and Bach by the much-loved contralto during her triumphant visits to the United States in 1948 and 1950. Recorded live on Ferriers only appearances in Carnegie Hall in January 1948, four months after her acclaimed performance at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival, Mahlers Das Lied von der Erde reunited her with the conductor Bruno Walter and saw her making first appearances with tenor Set Svanholm and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Re-mastered by Norman White and Adrian Tuddenham, this remarkable account pre-dates Ferriers often-reissued 1952 recording by four years and finds her in exhilarating fresh voice a vivid, vital display of a great artist at her peak.