Georg Schumann – a Post-Wagner composer?

 

This is the first time I’ve heard the music of Georg Schumann — but not the first time CPO’s released it. This recording is the fourth of G. Schumann’s music. Previously, CPO’s released his first symphony, a disc of lieder, and one of chamber music.

Georg Schumann (no relation to Robert), was the longtime director of the Sing-Akademie in Berlin and composition professor at the Prussian Academy of Arts. He enjoyed a 60-year relationship with the Berlin Philharmonic, providing musicians for choral works, and occasionally original compositions.

So what’s my impression of this then-prominent but now-obscure composer? Listening to his 1905 Symphony, the phrase “post-Wagner” came to mind. Schumann meant his Symphony No. 2 to capture the heroic spirit. He does so in a more conservative fashion than Strauss with Ein Heldenleben (written seven years before).

Strauss’ tone poem was autobiographical. Schumann’s symphony is not. Schumann’s themes reminded me strongly of Wagner without sounding derivative. Schumann masterfully develops his motifs in a way that keeps interest and dramatic tension high.

Included are two overtures that provide a nice contrast to the symphony. The 1906 Overture to a Drama is filled with sharp contrasts, keeping the listener off-balance until the very end.

The Lebensfreude overture is a jolly little work. This is the music of the operetta and Oktoberfest.

The Deutsches Symphony-Orchester Berlin directed James Feddeck does an outstanding job with this music. Schumann gives the orchestra lots to do, and they seem to enjoy every minute of it. No question — I need to seek out those other recordings. I’ve got some catching up to do.

Georg Schumann: Symphony No. 2, Op. 42
Deutsches Symphony-Orchester Berlin; James Feddeck, conductor
CPO 555 110-2

More Recent Posts

  • Soggy Po’ Boys get into Something New, June 27

    The Soggy Po’ Boys will stop by WTJU Wednesday afternoon, June 27, at 4 (edt) for a live session ahead of their concert the following night over at The Bridge PAI brought to you by WTJU and Charlottesville Jazz Society.

  • Franz Xaver Mozart Piano Works – Worth a Listen

    Tags: , , , , ,

    It’s tough being a good composer — when your father’s a great one. Franz Xaver Mozart was the youngest son of Wolfgang Amadeus. Franz’s compositions aren’t ground-breaking, but they are satisfying in their own right. Franz Xaver was a conductor and pianist as well as a composer. As a performer he spent several years touring […]

  • Greg Duncan Toots His Own Horn, June 22

    Trumpet player Greg Duncan will stop by WTJU this Friday morning around 11 to chat about a new monthly concert series he is programming at The Bridge PAI. The series, presented by Charlottesville Jazz Society, debuts this Sunday, June 24, at 8 pm, and features the Charles Owens Quartet.

  • Independence Day Concert, 2-4 pm

    On July 4th, James Monroe’s Highland (2050 James Monroe Pkwy, Charlottesville VA) will host the Heifetz International Music Institute for a free concert from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and free grounds access throughout the day. A classically-inspired ensemble from Heifetz will bring a uniquely innovative and expressive concert that will appeal to all ages. As […]

  • Blue Heron complete outstanding Peterhouse Partbooks series

    Tags: , , , , ,

    In the 1540s Thomas Bull compiled partbooks for the Canterbury Cathedral Choir. They were only in use for a few years, as Edward II dissolved professional choirs. The books were stored in Peterhouse College and all but forgotten. Blue Heron has brought this music back to life, with scholarly research and committed performances. This is the fifth […]

  • Heinrich Schütz Schwanengesang – Flawlessly Performed

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Schütz’s massive setting of Psalm 119 (SWV 482-492) was completed a year before his death. Because of that, it’s known as his Schwanengesang or Swan Song. (There’s some evidence that Schütz himself referred to this work this way). Schütz set the text for two SATB choirs and organ. It might seem that such constrained resources […]