Scenes from Goethe's Faust
Over time how many composers have had a try at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust – and have failed more or less honourably! Robert Schumann is generally named as one of them. After all, with Scenes from Goethe’s Faust he wrote a work between 1844 and 1853 that until the present has led a shadowy existence in the concert business. But wait! Did Schumann truly shipwreck in compositional terms in grappling with the German tragedy – for that reason alone? Or was his music quite simply not (yet) understood – then or now – by his contemporaries and by ensuing ages?
For the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who originally was to lead the three concerts in the Berlin Philharmonie, Schumann’s Faust Scenes “are among the greatest music that there is.” Unfortunately, the conductor has had to cancel his guest appearance with the Philharmoniker. We are grateful to Daniel Harding, who recently performed Mahler’s Tenth Symphony with the orchestra, who has agreed to stand in for him.
Christian Gerhaher, Dorothea Röschmann and Luca Pisaroni will slip into the roles of Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles. Besides additional high-caliber soloists, the Rundfunkchor Berlin can also be experienced in the performances of Schumann’s composition, which oscillates between incidental music, cantata and secular oratorio. These are optimal prerequisites to (re-)discover – in Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s words – “the enigmatic, transcendental, ambiguous” in Schumann’s Faust music.