Schumann - Complete Symphonies Nos.1 'Spring', 2, 3 'Rhenish', 4 (reference record.: Otto Klemperer)
New Philharmonia Orchestra Philharmonia Orchestra* Conductor: Otto Klemperer Recorded in 1960-69, at London
Symphony No.1 Schumann's marriage to Clara Wieck in 1840, after years of bitter opposition from her father, brought a fundamental change in his creative output. Before 1840 he had composed almost entirely for the piano; yet after his marriage he wrote comparatively little for his own instrument. Instead he plunged with characteristic ardour into new or little-tried genres: in 1840 he composed well over 100 songs; 1841 was dominated by orchestral works, while in 1842 he absorbed himself in chamber music, producing his three string quartets, the piano quartet and the piano quintet. Schumann had sketched a symphony, in G minor, as early as 1832 but, it seems, lacked the confidence to complete the work. It was only seven years later, after hearing the premiére of Schubert's hitherto unknown "Great" C major Symphony, that he was again fired to create a symphony; at the same time Clara wrote in her diary that it was her "highest wish" that Robert should compose for orchestra. Two years later, with the Schumanns at last secure in their domestic happiness, the "Spring" Symphony was born, composed in a surge of enthusiasm between 23 January and 20 February 1841. The premiere, under Mendelssohn, took place in Leipzig on 31 March. As the composer revealed, the symphony was originally inspired by a springtime poem by Adolph Böttger, and originally contained descriptive titles for each movement-'Spring's Awakening", "Evening", "Merry Playmates" and "Full Spring'l—which were later discarded. The opening fanfare, of which Schumann wrote that he wanted "the trumpets to sound as if from on high, like a call to awaken", is the symphony's germinal cell, generating both the irrepressibly buoyant main theme of the allegro and the rapt melody of the slow movement. Its dotted rhythm emerges again, marcatissimo on trombones, midway through the finale, in which Schumann draws a pointed contrast between the powerful initial scale figure that dominates the development and the elegantly skittish main theme. Though the scherzo, with its two independent trios (a symphonic innovation of Schumann's) and hushed, lingering coda, has no overt connection with the opening fanfare, its main idea is subtly foreshadowed, on trombones and bassoons pianissimo (an extraordinary sonority), near the close of the slow movement.