Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1-4

photo credit:

Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1-4—San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas (SFS Media 71)

MTT has announced his retirement from the San Francisco Symphony at the end of the 2019-2020 seasons, marking a quarter century with the orchestra. How strange, then, that a conductor known for his championing of the likes of Mahler, Ives, Reich, and so many others, includes Schumann among his valedictory recordings. Michael Tilson Thomas’ approach accentuates the tender, simple, and vulnerable side of Schumann’s symphonies, which MTT calls a “preserve for endangered emotions… My approach to Schumann—and to the whole standard repertoire—is to vary the number of musicians playing at any given time,” MTT continues. “According to the musical situation, the orchestra might morph from a large ensemble to a chamber orchestra, and vice versa … We approached these symphonies from the point of view of Schumann’s piano music, with all its color, unusual effects and voicings. And I wanted these symphonies to sound as though they were being played on the piano, with free and spontaneous turns of phrase and color, and with the music’s wonderful sense of breathing—the way people breathe, sometimes deeply, sometimes with little emotional gasps…I hope these performances suggest a different way of thinking about this repertoire, especially as it prioritizes the tender, simple, and vulnerable side of the music. Although the music is very personal, it feels universal. Schumann’s symphonies are about all of us.” These performances were recorded live in Davies Symphony Hall in 2015 and 2016.

[The link sends you to the San Francisco Symphony website.)


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