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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67847
Recording details: November 2011
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon & Dave Rowell
Release date: September 2012
Total duration: 15 minutes 29 seconds

'In a performance as strong and imaginative as this one by Anthony Marwood its impact is considerable. The sinew of the first movement, with its bold opening statement and toughness of inner workings, is contrasted with the mellow, reflective lyricism of the central slow one and with the gentle whimsicalities of the polonaise finale. There are firm Schumann fingerprints all over the score, and it fully merits the passionate advocacy that it receives here, both from Marwood as soloist and from Douglas Boyd’s astutely balanced conducting of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. This is Vol 13 of Hyperion’s Romantic Violin Concerto series, sensibly completed with two other Schumann works. The A minor Violin Concerto is a transcription by the composer himself of his Cello Concerto, done in 1853 but never performed in his lifetime. The violin version, not surprisingly, gives the music a brighter, airier perspective than the original for cello, with a particular sparkle to the finale, and Marwood here coaxes out its expressive niceties and vitality with an assured touch' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Marwood and the BBC Scottish Symphony under Douglas Boyd go at it with a great deal of enthusiasm, with the solo line very prominent in the sound picture. The single-movement Phantasie in C is more cogent and rewarding, while the 'Violin Concerto in A minor' is a real curiosity—the composer's 1853 recasting of his Cello Concerto in the same key' (The Guardian)

'Anthony Marwood, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Douglas Boyd in alert support, makes absolutely the best case for the Schumann Violin Concerto, bringing fire where necessary to the first movement and a nice relaxation to the seraphic slow movement … the C major Phantasie for violin and orchestra … is the real McCoy: it brought to mind such pieces as the magnificent four-horn Konzertstück in its combination of inner strength, free-flowing contrasts and lyric warmth … the poise of the soloist, the responsiveness of the Scottish orchestra and the fine recording make the best possible case for yet another neglected work, as indeed they do for this release as a whole' (International Record Review)

Phantasie in C major, Op 131
composed for Joseph Joachim

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Joachim had played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Schumann’s direction at the Lower Rhine Music Festival in August 1853, and encouraged him to write something in a similar vein (‘violinists … have so few opportunities, besides chamber music, to show off their instruments’, Joachim complained). Schumann swiftly produced the Phantasie for violin and orchestra, Op 131, a transcription of his Cello Concerto Op 129, the Violin Concerto, and the third Violin Sonata (the latter growing from the Sonata he, Dietrich and Brahms had composed on Joachim’s motto F.A.E.—‘Frei aber einsam’, or ‘free but lonely’). Joachim immediately performed the Phantasie in Düsseldorf, and later in Leipzig and Hannover; none of the remaining pieces received a premiere until long after Schumann’s death.

The Phantasie in C major, Op 131 was declared, after its Leipzig performance, to be Schumann’s best concert piece. It is cast in one movement, with a gentle A minor introduction which is recalled in the following C major Allegro—a thematic cross-reference characteristic of Schumann’s music from the 1850s. The soloist mostly elaborates on melodic material laid out by the orchestra, with the exception of the cadenza which—again, typically—Schumann composed rather than leaving the violinist to improvise. Then, just before the coda, the roles of soloist and orchestra are reversed: as in the first movement of Mendelssohn’s E minor Violin Concerto, the violin’s ricochet figure becomes an accompaniment for the orchestral theme. After Schumann’s death attitudes towards the Phantasie changed: heard through the filter of his illness, it seemed painted in gloomy colours and, while some conceded that when played well it proved surprisingly effective, it fell out of the repertoire.

from notes by Laura Tunbridge © 2012

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