Anodyne Schumann Symphonies from San Francisco

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 5

Sound Quality: 9

How to describe this set of non-happening Schumann symphonies? I had thought originally to provide a header and then leave the page totally blank, but that would look like a mistake and, say what you will, there are no mistakes in these performances. They are immaculately played, beautifully recorded, but completely devoid of interpretive interest. There are no outstanding moments anywhere, in any symphony: nothing to make you sit up and say, “Wow, I haven’t heard that before.” The consistency of approach is absolute–indeed, so much so that you’d be hard pressed to say where one pieces ends and another begins. It’s just a uniform, vanilla blob of Schumann orchestral stuff. I couldn’t point to a specific passage and say, “that’s especially good” or “that’s especially bad.” It’s all just bland, professional work that passes the time pleasantly without leaving anything distinctive in the memory. If you read this paragraph and think that it basically says the same thing over and over in slightly different words, then you’ll have a good idea of how these performances sound. As I said at the start, a non-happening.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Bernstein (DG); Szell (Sony)

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