30 November 2017

Because the orchestrated version of Schumann’s Der Rose Pilgarfahrt, as conducted in 1974 by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos on EMI, didn’t give entire satisfaction, and because, based on Schuman’s own testimony, the original version with piano accompaniment seemed truer to his original conception, I ordered the recording made by the label ebs in 1990, which boasted being the premiere recording (of the piano version) – and it was cheap enough.

I then put up EMI’s CD on my shelves – only to discover that the ebs version was already there! Of course I had totally forgotten about it – it entered my collection in 1994… Now, I have so many records that it’s easy for me to forget what I have, and that’s why I keep files – I’m slowly moving to computerizing them, but they are, at the present, cardboard files. The ebs recording was duly listed. Only, when I checked on my files to see if I had any recordings of the work, I had looked at the end of the Schumann’ files, where I normally list the choral works; but, because it is the version with piano accompaniment, I had entered it with the lieder, just after the piano works and before the chamber music. Well… too late to cancel my order, so now I have two copies of the ebs recording, and I feel particularly stupid.

In fact, I think the CD was given to me by the American tenor Scot Weir, who sings on it. I met Scot at the Salzburg Festival, where I was a stage manager and he was singing Basilio in Mozart’s Nozze. Scot was called late to replace another tenor in a concert with Britten’s Les Illuminations and he asked me to give him a little coaching in French. Well, I can testify to what a great ear and knack for foreign accents Scot has. After a few hours, I can tell you that he sung better French than most of your French singers, and the concert was superb. When he made the Schumann recording, in 1990, Scot had been singing as troupe member in German operas for a decade, and his German also sounds near-spotless to my non-German-native ears.

Comments are welcome