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The great romantic Robert Schumann is the featured composer in tonight's Full Works concert for Great Composers Month.
Although Robert Schumann (1810–1856) was no child prodigy, he went on to become one of the most important composers of the 19th century.
Our concert tonight opens with the overture to Genoveva, the only opera that Schumann wrote and which unfortunately was not very successful. It had only three performances and the poor reception it received convinced the composer never to write another opera. However its reputation has improved in recent years and its similarities to the works of Wagner are now recognised.
Schumann completed his Piano Concerto in A minor in 1845. He had begun several piano concertos but had failed to complete them. In 1841, after he wrote a fantasy for piano and orchestra, his wife Clara urged him to expand this piece into a full piano concerto. He did - and she played the solo part at the premiere.
The Fourth Symphony is now widely regarded as one of Schumann's most original and inventive works. In departing radically from the classical forms of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, it paved the way for the great late romantic symphonies of Brahms and Dvorak. Schumann called it a "symphony in one movement".
‘There is no composer to whom I feel closer than to Schumann,' says cellist Steven Isserlis who tonight plays Schumann's Adagio and Allegro in A flat major in an arrangement for cello and piano. 'He has been a beloved friend since I was a child; I remain as fascinated today as I was then by his unique blend of poetry, ecstatic strength and confessional intimacy.’
The only choral piece in tonight's concert is the part song, 'John Anderson'. This gentle work, based on a poem by Robert Burns, is performed by Polyphony conducted by Stephen Layton.
The concert ends with Schumann's Konzertstuck for 4 Horns and Orchestra, one of the best loved works for horn players. It is especially challenging for the first horn with numerous opportunities above high C. Tonight John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique.
Schumann: Genoveva – Overture
Neeme Jarvi conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor
Piano: Martin Helmchen
Marc Albrecht conducts the Philharmonic Orchestra of Strasbourg
Schumann: Symphony No.4 in D minor
Daniel Barenboim conducts Staatskapelle Berlin
Schumann: Adagio and Allegro in A flat major (arranged for cello and piano)
Cello: Steven Isserlis
Piano: Christoph Eschenbach
Schumann: John Anderson Opus 145 No.4
Stephen Layton conducts Polyphony
Schumann: Konzertstuck for 4 Horns and Orchestra
Horns: Robert Montgomery, Gavin Edwards, Susan Dent, Robert Maskell
John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique