Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Robert Schumann: Symphony No.4 in D minor – Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Cristian Măcelaru

Under the baton of the Romanian conductor Cristian Măcelaru, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs Robert Schumann's Symphony No.4 in D minor, Op.120 (1851 version). Recorded at Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit, on March 29, 2015.

Robert Schumann's popular appeal as one of the masters of mid-nineteenth century piano music has been injurious to his reputation in other genres. His string quartets are frequently ignored by both public and performers due to the oft-stated but ill-informed charge that they are little better than inflated piano transcriptions, and his four mature symphonies have suffered even longer and more painful periods of neglect for similar reasons. It has become fashionable to claim that, even in those passages where Schumann's ideas are more purely orchestral in conception, he lacked enough skill at instrumentation to realize those ideas as well as a better orchestrator might have. Consequently, many conductors have taken it upon themselves to "improve" Schumann's scoring, with results that vary from the extremely effective to the indefensible, and there has hardly been a twentieth century performance or recording entirely free of such alterations.

We can freely admit Schumann's inexperience as an orchestrator, and not take offense at the subtle modifications made to his scores by such well-intentioned musicians as George Szell. On the other hand, the wholesale re-writes by Gustav Mahler have the ultimate and very unfortunate effect of removing Schumann from his element altogether (as does his similar re-write of Beethoven's Ninth).

The first of the two charges leveled above is a different matter altogether, for these four works are by no means mere piano transcriptions. Schumann was obviously a fluent composer for the piano, and some pianistic traits and mannerisms are bound to sneak across from the one medium to the other (very few composers are immune to such "seeping" effects). This in no way, however, diminishes the impact that his wonderfully evocative, prototypically "Romantic" (in the original, mid-nineteenth century sense of the word) symphonies can have in skilled hands. A highly individual sense of a formal design, strikingly beautiful thematic and harmonic substance, and a history of influence on such later symphonists as Brahms and Tchaikovsky all recommend these musical gems to both audiences and musicians alike, who would do well to re-evaluate them on their own terms, and not compare them to the works of later composers who clearly had different means and different goals.

Schumann's Symphony No.4 in D minor, Op. 120, although last by number, is hardly his final effort in the genre. It was, in fact, originally composed immediately following the completion of the First Symphony in 1841, and thus predates either the Second or the Third symphonies. Schumann, however, refrained from publishing the work until 1853, during which interval he undertook some revisions (principally in the area of orchestration, though the work's complexity would lead us to suspect that he continued to tinker with details for some time). The work is far and away the most formally innovative of the composer's four symphonies: the four movements, each structurally incomplete, are to be played without any break. Collectively, they form a single large-scale formal design. Significantly, Schumann considered calling the piece "Symphonic Fantasia"--no doubt wondering if such a creation were still a genuine symphony.

Source: Blair Johnston (

Ο Ρόμπερτ Σούμαν έγραψε τη Συμφωνία αρ. 4, έργο 120, το 1841. Το έργο εκδόθηκε αρκετά αργότερα, το 1851, αφού αναθεωρήθηκε σε μεγάλο βαθμό από τον συνθέτη.

Την Τέταρτη Συμφωνία του Ρόμπερτ Σούμαν ερμηνεύει η Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα του Ντιτρόιτ υπό τη διεύθυνση του ρουμανικής καταγωγής αρχιμουσικού Cristian Măcelaru.

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

♪ Symphony No.4 in D minor, Op.120 (1841, rev. 1851)

1851 version

i. Ziemlich langsam – Lebhaft
ii. Romanze: Ziemlich langsam
iii. Scherzo: Lebhaft
iv. Langsam  Lebhaft

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Cristian Măcelaru

Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit, March 29, 2015

(HD 720p)

First publication: July 29, 2015 – Last update: November 5, 2018

Newly appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Cristian Măcelaru (b. 1980, Timișoara, Romania) has established himself as one of the fast-rising stars of the conducting world. With every concert he displays an exciting and highly regarded presence, thoughtful interpretations and energetic conviction on the podium. He launches his inaugural season at Cabrillo in August 2017 with premiere-filled programs of new works and fresh re-orchestrations by an esteemed group of composers. Among the 2017 season's highlights are seven world premieres, 11 composers-in-residence, a stunning roster of international guest artists, and two special tributes – one to commemorate Lou Harrison's centenary and another honoring John Adams' 70th birthday.

He recently completed his tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra as Conductor-in-Residence, a title he held for three seasons until August 2017. Prior to that, he was their Associate Conductor for two seasons and previously Assistant Conductor for one season from September 2011. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra subscription debut in April 2013 and continues a close relationship with the orchestra in leading them on annual subscription programs and other special concerts.

Măcelaru regularly conducts top orchestras in North America including the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, St Louis Symphony, Toronto Symphony and Detroit Symphony, in addition to the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the 2016-2017 season, he led the Bayerischen Rundfunk Symphonieorchester in two separate programs and made debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Weimar Staatskapelle, Royal Flemish Philharmonic and New Japan Philharmonic with Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist. In recent seasons, further international appearances have brought him to Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

The 2017-2018 season sees Măcelaru opening the National Symphony Orchestra's season in Washington D.C. and returning to the Philadelphia Orchestra on three subscription programs plus Messiah concerts. He guest-conducts the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Atlanta, Seattle, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego and Vancouver. Internationally he leads the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Swedish Radio Symphony, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In Summer 2017, Măcelaru makes his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival and returns to the Grand Teton and Interlochen Festivals. Additionally he leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in two programs at the Mann Center.

Cristian Măcelaru made his Carnegie Hall debut in February 2015 on a program with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Anne-Sophie Mutter. A keen opera conductor, in June 2015 he led the Cincinnati Opera in highly acclaimed performances of Il Trovatore. In 2010, he made his operatic debut with the Houston Grand Opera in Madama Butterfly and led the U.S. premiere of Colin Matthews's Turning Point with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as part of the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival. In 2019, he returns to the Houston Grand Opera on a Kasper Holten production of Don Giovanni.

Măcelaru came to public attention in February 2012 when he conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a replacement for Pierre Boulez in performances met with critical acclaim. Winner of the 2014 Solti Conducting Award, Măcelaru previously received the Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award in 2012, a prestigious honor only awarded once before in the Foundation's history. He has participated in the conducting programs of the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival, studying under David Zinman, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Oliver Knussen and Stefan Asbury. His main studies were with Larry Rachleff at Rice University, where he received master's degrees in conducting and violin performance. He completed undergraduate studies in violin performance at the University of Miami. An accomplished violinist from an early age, Măcelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony Orchestra and made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at the age of nineteen. He also played in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons.

Măcelaru formerly held the position of Resident Conductor at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, where he was Music Director of the Campanile Orchestra, Assistant Conductor to Larry Rachleff and Conductor for the Opera Department. A proponent of music education, he has served as a conductor with the Houston Youth Symphony, where he also conceptualized and created a successful chamber music program. As Founder and Artistic Director of the Crisalis Music Project, Mr. Măcelaru spearheaded a program in which young musicians perform in a variety of settings, side-by-side with established artists. Their groundbreaking inaugural season produced and presented concerts featuring chamber ensembles, a chamber orchestra, a tango operetta, and collaborations with dancer Susana Collins, which resulted in a choreographed performance of Vivaldi/Piazzolla's Eight Seasons.

Cristian Măcelaru resides in Philadelphia with his wife Cheryl and children Beniamin and Maria.


More photos

See also

Robert Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor (Version for cello and string orchestra) – Nicolas Altstaedt, Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor – Jan Lisiecki, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor – Nelson Freire, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Claus Peter Flor

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