Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Markus Werba sings Schumann's Faust

Markus Werba & Robert Schumann

We posted a clip of Markus Werba in April 2008 dubbed "Goethe-dammerung," which featured him singing from Schumann's underperformed "Scenes from Goethe's Faust." The original clip was deleted by the YouTube user, but a new clip has emerged and we feel that it's worth watching, so we're reposting it with a little bit of history about the piece (excerpted from Wikipedia). You can also hear some very different interpretations by Bryn Terfel, Herman Prey and Christian Gerhaher at the Robert Schumann site

Written between 1844 and 1853, Szenen aus Goethes Faust (Scenes from Goethe's Faust) has been described as the height of composer Robert Schumann’s accomplishments in the realm of dramatic music.

Schumann's work on what he labeled an oratorio began just over a decade after Goethe’s completion of Part Two of the dramatic poem Faust in 1832, the year of Goethe's death. Many contemporary readers of Faust found Goethe's epic poem daunting and difficult to grasp. Goethe himself declared only Mozart fit to write the music for Faust (though Mozart died in 1791, almost 20 years prior to the completion of Part One of Faust).

Schumann explained the weight of the task before him in an 1845 letter to Felix Mendelssohn: "[A]ny composer would not only be judged by his treatment of one of the seminal and most-widely acclaimed works in German literature, but would also be setting himself up to be compared to Mozart."

Yet despite Schumann's expressed reservations about the work, it has been labeled Schumann's "magnum opus." Schumann opens wide "a manifold musical world" that coherently draws together elements of "lied, horror opera, grand opera, oratorio, and church music."

Schumann's music suggests the struggle between good and evil at the heart of Goethe's work, as well as Faust's tumultuous search for enlightenment and peace. Schumann's restless orchestration brings to the fore Faust's delusions upon hearing of a new world being created and its rapturous promise of an everlasting present.

Although often overlooked within Schumann's impressive oeuvre, Szenen aus Goethes Faust has been deemed among Schumann's most moving works, and a pinnacle of his quintessential Romantic concern with the extra-musical and literary potential of musical expression.

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