Much chatter this week about the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring premiere, including worthy homages with cats and a mistake on Slate calling it a symphony. (It’s a ballet folks, what do you think caused the riot?)
Here in the thousandfold household, we’ve gravitated toward the actual Spring Symphony, Schumann’s first. I’m actually more partial to the 4th, in thoughtful D minor, but, as with all of Schumann’s energetic, episodic, and far-reaching symphonies, multiple listenings yield manifold delights. This recording has been kicking around the house; I especially like the second movement, the Larghetto that begins at 10:10.
Schumann was less of a melodist as Schubert and Brahms, the other great Romantic song composers who wrote symphonies (surely not what most musicologists would call them, but I’m a singer, not a musicologist).
Compare, for example, Schumann’s “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” (from Dichterliebe) with Schubert’s “Das Lied im Grünen.”
In the Schumann, the piano accompaniment is so inextricable to the melody that to hum the vocal line by itself makes you feel lonely (maybe that’s the point for a song about yearning). The Schubert has a deceptively simple melody that lends itself to humming, until you realize that it changes keys every couple of bars.