Saturday, March 25, 2017

Schumann's SPRING

Robert Schumann's imagistic, programmatic ideas for his Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 38 ("Spring") came to him only after the work was completed.

He suggests for the opening movement a longing for spring. Later in the symphony, a sense of things coming to life. Projected onto the last movement is a sort of in-the-moment melancholy that spring is passing too darn fast.

This is the first symphony I fell in love with. It happened around 1979. I still have this LP, recorded in 1958:

LP - Szell: Schumann Symphony No. 1 "Spring" + "Manfred" Overture - Epic BC 1039

I bought the George Szell and Cleveland Orchestra CD of all the Schumann symphonies:

Schumann: The Four Symphonies; Manfred Overture

I've always had some trouble trying to apply Schumann's after-the-fact spring imagery to this work. Occasionally, I succeed in placing my imagination beside an imaginary winter fireplace -- longing for spring. Occasionally, I succeed in sensing a surge of growth, of vernal energy and bounteous bloom during later symphonic moments. But for the most part, I take in this work as an abstract musical wonder -- I'm stunned by and made captive to high-quality aural structures, oblique emotions, gestural spirits.

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