11.5.2018

New Schumann CD is out!

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Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir led by Aapo Häkkinen join their forces together with an impressive vocal cast, Carolyn Sampson, Benno Schachtner, Werner Güra, Jonathan Sells and Cornelius Uhle, in this unique release of rarely heard choral works by Robert Schumann (1810–1856).

This recording includes the world première recording of Schumann’s 17-minute Adventlied, Op. 71 for soloists, chorus and orchestra, four choral ballades based on texts by Emanuel Geibel, and Schumann’s version of Bach’s Cantata BWV 105.

Robert Schumann wrote in 1850: “Keep in mind that there are also singers, and that the highest in musical expression is achieved through the chorus and orchestra.” This illustrates well the composer’s desire to write large works for this medium in an attempt to create a new genre for the concert hall. Today, they still constitute the least explored area of his output. The elevated style he was aspiring to (both in the text and the music) was unheard-of outside the realm of church music. In fact, whether for the church, opera, or the concert hall, Schumann was looking for a sanctified realm, a Goethe-inspired meeting ground for art and religion.

Adventlied, Op. 71, was written in November 1848 to a text from Friedrich Rückert’s Pantheon. The sense of urgent need and chromatic writing alternate with lyrical sections and quasi-Handelian grand climaxes in praise of universal brotherhood, featuring the transformed opening theme from time to time throughout the work. Schumann studied intensively approximately 500 works by Bach, including numerous still unpublished cantatas, and took them up again and again in order to “daily confess before this lofty man, and strive to purify and strengthen myself through him.” He conducted in Dresden in February-May 1849 the Adventlied and in July 1849 Bach’s dramatic cantata Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht, BWV 105, and in Düsseldorf in October 1850 the Adventlied and, in the secular sphere, in November-December 1852 and again in March 1853 the large choral-orchestral ballade Vom Pagen und der Königstochter, op. 140, on texts by Emanuel Geibel. The work’s form bears a close resemblance to symphony. The four ballades are the unquestionable highpoint of Schumann’s modern, pervasively noble epic drama and peculiar way of storytelling.

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