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Schumann: The Symphonies Berliner Philharmoniker /Rattle BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS, 2 CDS & BLU-RAY 24/40 The Berlin Philharmonic is arguably the most famous orchestral brand in the musical world, but that, it seems, is no longer enough to ensure that it can enjoy a comfortable relationship with the classical recording industry. Rather than being forced to follow the commercial diktats of established labels, the Berlin Phil has become the latest orchestra to market its own discs.

July 18, 2014

Andrew Clements

Simon Rattle's Schumann cycle, from concerts last year in the Berliner Philharmonie, launches the venture. It's a lavishly presented set - two CDs and a third Blu-Ray, which contains the performances in higher resolution (96kHz/24-bit) audio and HD video.

The sound is very fine and the detail exemplary, but the performances leave a lot to be desired. There's a heavy, over-deliberate feeling to the playing, a thickness to the sound, and a lack of athleticism in the rhythms that seems as if Schumann's symphonic writing is being approached from the perspective of the composers who came after him, especially Brahms, rather than from those of his time, such as Mendelssohn. Rattle opts to perform the original 1841 version of the D Minor Symphony No 4, rather than Schumann's 1851 revision, but otherwise, it's hard to square these stolid performances with the energised, transparent, period-instrument Schumann that Rattle conducted with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, six years ago.


Simon Rattle . . . stolid performances and over-deliberate Schumann

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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