Schumann: Das Paradies und die Peri

Reviewed on Fri 27 Nov, 2015

The oratorio sets words by Thomas Moore, about a Peri, a kind of female spirit, seeking admission into heaven. Orchestration is ingenious but subtle, and the modestly-sized ensemble projects all the colours, but without overpowering the voices.

Simon Rattle conducted this performance shortly before the official announcement that he was to become Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra. Now a recording has been released, his debut on the orchestra’s own label. Both are auspicious, as this was a very fine account, and of an unjustly neglected work. The oratorio sets words by Thomas Moore, about a Peri, a kind of female spirit, seeking admission into heaven. Orchestration is ingenious but subtle, and the modestly-sized ensemble projects all the colours, but without overpowering the voices. The all-star cast is excellent, particularly Sally Matthews and Mark Padmore. Kate Royal sounded weak in the hall, but her voice is fuller on the recording. The London Symphony Chorus is given a huge amount of demanding work, but excels throughout. Best of all is Rattle himself. His communication with the musicians is exemplary, and his passion for the music shines through in every bar.
–Gavin Dixon