Schumann's Symphony No 2

London Symphony Orchestra/Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Photo of Gardiner conducting

Sir John Eliot Gardiner launches an exploration of the works of Robert Schumann, beginning with a rare glimpse of his only opera and Second Symphony.

The opera Genoveva evokes a medieval legend, and is somewhat of a rarity, with the Overture often played alone. Heavily influenced by Wagner, the music sets the mood for the rather dark and gloomy story that follows.

Berlioz's setting of six poems by Théophile Gautier consider love from different angles, principally the loss of love. Coming at a time when his marriage to the actress Harriet Smithson was all but over, the music seems to echo his sense of the loss of his youthful dreams.

Schumann's Second Symphony was composed despite the composer’s problems with health and depression. ‘I would say that my resistant spirit had a visible influence on [the work] and it is through that that I sought to fight my condition,’ he said.

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