Spanning four CDs and featuring many a rousing performance, this release is dedicated to a fascinating yet largely unexplored facet of Robert Schumann’s output: his secular choral music.
Written during the period 1840–50 and scored for men’s, women’s and a variety of mixed voices (with or without accompaniment), the music draws on a rich choice of texts by poets such as Rückert and Burns. While some of the early songs are humoristic in character, many of the later ones – including the Drei Männerchöre – are politically oriented, reflecting the revolutionary spirit of their age.The works also represent a veritable lesson in different types of choral texture; Schumann was able to try out many of these on the two amateur groups he was in charge of directing. From the colourful use of solo voices in Drei Gedichte Op.29 to the unusual intertwining of two choruses in Vier doppelchörige Gesänge Op.141, the compilation reveals a composer intent on pushing boundaries.
That Schumann regarded choral music as an essential part of his oeuvre is revealed in various letters of the period, and yet the scepticism with which many of these late works have been greeted – due, in part, to the composer’s concurrent mental decline – has done little to increase their popularity. Highly accessible and often profoundly affecting, they deserve to be performed more often; with Schumann’s melodic and dramatic genius in full evidence, these committed readings are a must-have for both the Romantic enthusiast and choral music aficionado.
- During Schumann’s troubled life the composer came relatively late to writing choral music. Inspired by nature and poetry his secular choral works reveal a fascinating side of the composer: full of humour, wit, irony, innocence and beauty it is essential Schumann, the many faced.
- Superb performances by the Studio Vocale Karlsruhe conducted by Werner Pfaff, rightfully awarded with a prestigious “Diapason d’or” in France.
- Comprehensive liner notes written by a specialist in this repertoire, sung texts available on www.brilliantclassics.com.