MS 6448 Symphony No.2 in C Major, Op. 61
Leonard Bernstein w/ New York Philharmonic
Released on 1963
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
MS 6448 cover
[high resolution scan]

W allace Brockwayís and Herbert Weinstockís Men of Music, a book I esteem as musical literature of the highest order, commits not even a jot of ink to Schumannís Second Symphony. Whereas the Third and Fourth are still enjoyed today, and the First is historically important, the Second is typically given short shrift as the product of a febrile mind. That the composer was in the throes of deep melancholy or madness when he wrote the Second is true, although the same might be said of any five days in a week for Schumann. And that the symphony seems hastily stitched together in spots is likewise true; again, not an anomaly in the annals of Schumann. There are, however, powerful parts in the Second that demand to be taken seriously, at least on some level. The work begins with a dream, ends in exclamation points, and in between explores a world of extremes. The second movement, a Scherzo, feels like a Frankensteinís dance of odd time signatures: it gambols, minces, runs, crashes and spins to an exciting climax. The thoughtful third movement, the antithesis of the movements before and after, is a work of majestic melancholy in which Schumannís tortured genius finds sublime expression. Schumannís Second Symphony cohabits a unique place between the bold strokes of Beethoven and the passionate throes of Tchaikovsky. While not a timeless work, the Second is still time well-spent for the listener, as Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic capture the beauty and bluster of Schumannís Second. Bernstein, who recorded all four of Schumannís symphonies for Columbia in the 1960s, repeated the feat 20 years later with the Vienna Philharmonic for the Deutsche Gramaphon label. Itís hard to imagine the Second given a more spirited reading than it gets here, though music listeners may want to forego the fifty-year-old elpee version and spend $15 on the CD.

TRACK LISTING

  1. SOSTENUTO ASSAI; UN POCO PIU VIVACE
  2. SCHERZO; ALLEGRO VIVACE
  3. ADAGIO ESPRESSIVO
  4. ALLEGRO MOLTO VIVACE

CREDITS

John McClure -- producer
Edrward Downes -- liner notes
Edward Kasper -- cover drawing

return to ROBERT SCHUMANN discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1963 Columbia Masterworks LPm/s ML 5848/MS 6448 mono & stereo versions

 

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