Schumann - Das Paradies und die Peri
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Label: LSO Live
Cat No: LSO0782
Format: SACD + Blu-ray Audio
Number of Discs: 3
Release Date: 2nd October 2015
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
In his debut recording on LSO Live, Sir Simon Rattle conducts a stunning performance of Schumannís rarely recorded 'Das Paradies und die Peri' featuring a superb line-up of soloists. Rattle is well-known for being a champion of this work, yet this is his first audio recording of it. It is brought to life by the London Symphony Orchestra and a starry line-up of soloists under his baton, making the best possible case for Schumannís oratorio.
Sir Simon Rattle says of the piece, "Itís the great masterpiece youíve never heard, and there arenít many of those nowÖIn Schumannís life it was the most popular piece he ever wrote; it was performed endlessly. Wagner wrote how jealous he was that Schumann had done it and heíd stolen this subject that he wanted to do and how extraordinary it was".
Based on an episode from Thomas Mooreís epic poem 'Lalla Rookh', itself inspired by exotic, colourful tales from Persian mythology, 'Das Paradies und die Peri' reflects the 19th-century craze for all things Oriental. Completed in 1843, Schumannís secular oratorio tells how the Peri, a legendary creature, was expelled from paradise and follows her quest to redeem herself by giving the gift that is most dear to heaven. Writing about the work in a letter to a friend, Schumann said, "at the moment Iím involved in a large project, the largest Iíve yet undertaken Ė itís not an opera Ė I believe itís well-nigh a new genre for the concert hall."
Conceived in three beautifully sequenced parts, it is unlike any oratorio of Schumannís day. Sustained melodic invention is clear throughout, with Periís high C in the finale forming a deftly timed climax. Soprano Sally Matthews gives a soaring performance as Peri, showcasing Schumannís imaginative and emotive vocal writing, and there are superb supporting performances from Mark Padmore, Kate Royal, Bernarda Fink, Andrew Staples and Florian Boesch.
"It received as good a performance as could be imagined. Every strength of Schumannís art is showcased... [Rattleís] passion for this piece was obvious from his every gesture." - The Arts Desk *****
"Sally Matthews as the Peri fully engaged our sympathies for the resourceful spirit, capturing alike her plaintive entreaties and her vibrant exultation at the prospect of redemption." - Evening Standard ****
DSD recording, live at the Barbican, 11th January 2015
Audio 2.0 Stereo and multi-channel
Total playing time: 90m (approx)
2xSACD hybrid discs+ 1 Pure Audio Bluray
Notes in English, French and German
1Erster Teil - Vor Edens Tor im Morgenprangen
2Erster Teil - Wie glucklich sie wandeln
3Erster Teil - Der hehre Engel, der die Pforte
4Erster Teil - Wo find ich sie?
5Erster Teil - So sann sie nach
6Erster Teil - Doch seine Strome sind jetzt rot
7Erster Teil - Und einsam steht ein Jungling
8Erster Teil - Weh, weh, er fehlte das Ziel
9Erster Teil - Die Peri sah das Mal der Wunde
10Zweiter Teil - Die Peri tritt mit schuchterner Gebarde
11Zweiter Teil - Ihe erstes Himmelshoffen schwand
12Zweiter Teil - Fort streift von hier das Kind der Lufte
13Zweiter Teil - Die Peri weint
14Zweiter Teil - Im Waldesgrun am stillen See
15Zweiter Teil - Verlassener Jungling
16Zweiter Teil - O lass mich von der Luft durchdringen
17Zweiter Teil - Schlaf nun und ruhe in Traumen voll Duft
18Dritter Teil - Schmucket die Stufen zu Allahs Thron
19Dritter Teil - Dem Sang von ferne lauschend
20Dritter Teil - Verstossen! Verschlossen aufs neu
21Dritter Teil - Jetzt sank des Abends goldner Schein
22Dritter Teil - Und wie sie niederwarts sich schwingt
23Dritter Teil - Hinab zu jenem Sonnentempel
24Dritter Teil - O heilge Tranen innger Reue
25Dritter Teil - Es fallt ein Tropfen
26Dritter Teil - Freud, ewge Freude, mein Werk ist getan
Recorded at a sell-out concert at London's Barbican Hall in January 2015, this new recording sees Rattle taking the helm with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for his first disc on the LSO Live label. With Rattle now Music Director designate (taking up his post in September 2017), there are sure to be many more releases from this partnership, and they make a winning start here.
There's an almost missionary zeal to the music-making, not least in the predominantly slow music of part two, which is exquisitely moulded. The steadily unfolding account of the Peri's search for 'the gift that is most dear to Heaven' in order to gain admittance to Paradise is paced steadily and told with rapt intensity. As the action shifts from India to Egypt and then (somewhat topically) Syria, the touches of local colour emerge with engaging subtlety, but above all, it is the personal predicament of the Peri's plight into which the listener is drawn most keenly.
Any performance of this work is measured largely by the success of the Peri herself (soprano Sally Matthews in radiant voice, blossoming forth to her final top C) and the tenor narrator (Mark Padmore, the finest of present-day Evangelists bringing all his experience to bear). There is luxury casting in soprano Kate Royal as the young Maiden in part two, alto Bernarda Fink as a gleaming Angel, tenor Andrew Staples as the Young Man, and bass Florian Boesch as the tyrant Gazna in part one (plus a meltingly gorgeous aria in part three, 'Jetzt sank des Abends goldner Schein').
Crucially, the London Symphony Chorus is on spellbinding form throughout, and perfectly captured by the recording. The LSO themselves respond eagerly and stylishly to all the nuances of Schumann's score, which marries the ebullience of his symphonic writing with the psychological subtleties and emotional intensity of his lieder: a marvellous combination.
Newcomers to the work and aficionados alike should snap this up: it's a magical performance of a still underplayed masterpiece. Full text and English translation are included in the accompanying booklet, and a third disc contains high-definition Blu-ray audio for those with the appropriate equipment.
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