Music: Schumann Restored

A new CD set reaffirms him as a symphonist

Robert Schumann's irrefutable greatness rests on the expressive richness of his piano music and the beauty of his lyric songs. However, his stature as a symphonist has remained unsettled since his death in 1856. For some he is the link between Schubert's lyricism and Brahms' grandeur. But The New Grove Dictionary dismisses his symphonies as "inflated piano music with mainly routine orchestration." Because of their melodic fecundity and power, they remain widely performed and recorded. Still, conductors from Gustav Mahler to George Szell have edited their working scores, attempting to compensate for Schumann's putative deficiencies: amateurish orchestration; opaque, overdense textures; a...

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