Schumann: Das Paradies und die Peri - Rattle

Schumann: Das Paradies und die Peri - Rattle

LSO Live  LSO 0782 (3 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Vocal

Schumann: Das Paradies und die Peri

Sally Matthews & Kate Royal, sopranos
Bernarda Fink, mezzo
Mark Padmore & Andrew Staples, tenors
Florian Boesch, baritone
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Simon Rattle

In his debut recording on LSO Live, Sir Simon Rattle conducts a stunning performance of Schumann’s rarely recorded 'Das Paradies und die Peri' featuring a superb line-up of soloists. Rattle is well-known for being a champion of this work, yet this is his first audio recording of it. It is brought to life by the LSO and a starry line-up of soloists under his baton, making the best possible case for Schumann’s oratorio.

Sir Simon Rattle says of the piece, "It’s the great masterpiece you’ve never heard, and there aren’t many of those now…In Schumann’s life it was the most popular piece he ever wrote; it was performed endlessly. Wagner wrote how jealous he was that Schumann had done it and he’d stolen this subject that he wanted to do and how extraordinary it was".

Based on an episode from Thomas Moore’s epic poem 'Lalla Rookh', itself inspired by exotic, colourful tales from Persian mythology, 'Das Paradies und die Peri' reflects the 19th-century craze for all things Oriental. Completed in 1843, Schumann’s secular oratorio tells how the Peri, a legendary creature, was expelled from paradise and follows her quest to redeem herself by giving the gift that is most dear to heaven. Writing about the work in a letter to a friend, Schumann said, "at the moment I’m involved in a large project, the largest I’ve yet undertaken – it’s not an opera – I believe it’s well-nigh a new genre for the concert hall."

Conceived in three beautifully sequenced parts, it is unlike any oratorio of Schumann’s day. Sustained melodic invention is clear throughout, with Peri’s high C in the finale forming a deftly timed climax. Soprano Sally Matthews gives a soaring performance as Peri, showcasing Schumann’s imaginative and emotive vocal writing, and there are superb supporting performances from Mark Padmore, Kate Royal, Bernarda Fink, Andrew Staples and Florian Boesch.

Sir Simon Rattle & Bernarda Fink will perform Debussy's 'Pelleas et Mélisande' in London with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus on the 9th and 10th January 2016 which will be recorded for LSO Live.

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DSD recording
Reviews (1)

Review by Graham Williams - October 8, 2015

It may appear surprising that the first release from LSO Live heralding Sir Simon Rattle's new relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra is of a fairly unfamiliar oratorio by Robert Schumann. When, however, one considers Rattle's recent generally well-received set of the Schumann Symphonies with his current orchestra and his advocacy of this piece in a 2009 performance available on the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, his enthusiasm for ' Das Paradies und die Peri' is perhaps not totally unexpected.

The work is a setting in German of one of the tales from 'Lalla Rooka' a very successful verse epic by the Irish poet Thomas Moore published in 1817. It tells the tale of a 'Peri' who having been expelled from Paradise can only be re-admitted if she can find 'the gift that is most dear to heaven'. After two unsuccessful attempts she succeeds by bringing the tear of a malefactor shamed into repentance by observing a child at prayer.

What raises Moore's rather prolix poem above the level of sanctimonious Victorian religiosity is, of course, the marvellous inventiveness of Schumann's flowing melodic music. Rattle conducts the piece with a confidence born of experience. The forward impetus of his pacing ensures that the predominantly slow music of Part 2 retains its freshness and never becomes cloying or over-sentimentalised and the LSO respond to his firm direction with ravishing playing throughout.

Four of the soloists here are the same as in Rattle's Berlin performance referred to above and make a well-blended team; their familiarity with both the work and the conductor being evident from the outset. The bright voiced Peri of Sally Matthews is at times a little quavery though her commitment is never in doubt and she is especially moving in 'Es fällt ein Tropfen aufs Land' towards the end of Part 3. Bernarda Fink sings the Angel with her usual poise and mellifluous tone and Florian Boesch, while not quite matching the vocal beauty and sensitivity of say Christian Gerhaher in Berlin, never disappoints. Mark Padmore is a cultured narrator. The LSO chorus trained by Simon Halsey are in great shape and their singing of 'Doch seine Ströme sind jetzt rot' in Part I is incisive and thrilling at Rattle's driving tempo.

It must be admitted that the solo voices are not flattered by the less than ingratiating Barbican acoustic, but overall the sound is clear and well balanced, though hardly sumptuous.

The set, handsomely packaged and presented, consists of two 5.1 multi-channel SACDs recorded in DSD (128fs) and a single Blu-ray audio disc (5.1 DTS-HD MA 24 bit/192kHz) plus a 46-page booklet that includes full texts and translations. It certainly represents remarkable value at its modest price.

Copyright © 2015 Graham Williams and


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Comments (2)

Comment by hiredfox - November 28, 2015 (1 of 2)

SSR makes guest appearances with the LSO every year but few of these concerts have been recorded probably for contractural reasons. His actual appointment as Chief Conductor does not take place until the autumn of 2016 so this recording is unlikely to reveal anything of the sounds or relationship that he will forge with the orchestra in the coming years. It's release although perhaps slightly more than a co-incidence should be seen as a one-off recorded one suspects because of its comparative rarity value more than anything else.

Comment by Waveform - October 8, 2016 (2 of 2)

As the album description says the next installment to Rattle/LSOLive catalogue will be Debussy's "Pelleas et Melisande". The scheduled release date has been marked to September 2017 when Sir Simon Rattle will take up his appointment as a Music Director of London Symphony Orchestra. There will be three discs: two SACDs and one Pure Blu-ray Audio in the same manner as here. It's interesting that the package will be the first hi-res album of the opera.


2xSACD + 1xBD