Concert Review

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Review of the  Schumann Symphony #3 in E-Flat major (Rhenish)

It was a rainy and cold day yesterday (Sunday, December 16, 2012). It was therefore a perfect opportunity to visit the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, and to select from their archives a piece of music for my enjoyment.

I selected the Symphony #3 by Robert Schumann, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

Schumann’s Third Symphony, subtitled the ‘Rhenish’, was actually his last symphony (the Fourth symphony was actually written after the First). The Third was written in 1850, after Schumann’s appointment as conductor of the orchestra at Dusseldorf. It represents the height of Schumann’s capability as a composer.

With these works, Schumann said that he wanted to develop musical ideas in his head rather than on the keyboard. He actually wrote to a friend that he can hear the sounds of trumpets, horns and strings, and we clearly hear his documentation of these sounds.

As its name suggests, the symphony is a celebration of nature at the glorious German Rhineland, which inspired several generations of German composers, most notably Richard Wagner.

Interestingly, the symphony is in five movements rather than the more usual four. The additional movement, originally subtitled ‘In the style of an accompaniment to a solemn ceremony’, was inspired by Schumann’s visit to a Cologne cathedral.

Watch the Berliner Philharmoiker playing Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish”, the 4th movement:



And here is Sir Simon Rattle conducting Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, with the Berliner Philharmoniker:



Tags: Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle, Schumann, Symphony #3

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