Georg Schumann: Symphony in F minor, Op 42; Overtüre zu einem Drama, Op 45; Overture 'Lebensfreude', Op 54

Reviewed on Mon 15 Jan, 2018

The symphony's striding first movement can suffer stasis, a moody wallowing, and the slow movement (Adagio con moto) comes from the Bruckner stable, leaning to Franz Schmidt.

Georg Schumann (1866-1952), no relation to Robert, is here represented by substantial orchestral works, not least his 1905 four-movement Symphony in F minor (his second such work – there is a symphony from his youth). It’s very much from the Wagner/Strauss axis – heroic and intensely lyrical – and ambitious, for it lasts nearly 50 minutes. Although much compositional skill is evident, maybe a distinctive style is not, and those passages for which the ears lean forward remind more of the above-named. The striding first movement can suffer stasis, a moody wallowing, and the slow movement (Adagio con moto) comes from the Bruckner stable, leaning to Franz Schmidt. Overall, it’s a work one is pleased to hear while understanding why it’s a rarity. The two overtures (... to a Drama, and Joy of Life) are just as large-scale, both a quarter-of-an-hour, and have their moments, but...! Fine playing, sound and conducting.
–Colin Anderson