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Schumann: Manfred / Boreyko, Dusseldorfer SO [DVD]

Album Summary

>Schumann, Robert : Manfred, Op. 115
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This musical adaptation of Lord Byron's famous Romantic closet drama, Manfred, has been described as "truly spectacular" (Das Opernglas) In this Düsseldorf production, the audience "becomes" Manfred, experiencing through the eyes of the eponymous hero a projection of the visually alienated world of the Swiss mountains in which the story is set. Conducted by Andrey Boreyko and directed by Johannes Deutsch, this is one DVD you must watch.

This is the best thing we have to date. Standard PCM sound... and the picture is very good.

Version, beautifully recited by Johann von Bnlow (Manfred) and fairly well sung, is managed with commitment and correction.

Ballet Review
This Düsseldorf presentation has the musical forces beneath a great oval screen on which Manfred's face appears, along with mountains, arches, and more abstract designs that occasionally expand to cover orchestra and all. It's an impressive realization by Johannes Deutsche of this echt-Romantic work, giving it an almost choreographic dimension. Andrey Boreyko leads his large forces in a powerful performance, with Johann von Bülow speaking Manfred effectively...

BBC Music Magazine
This exceptionally beautiful staging is a revelation

The performance is excellent in every way. Soloists are in with the orchestra.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 89 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo,
Subtitles: English, French


The vision carries the performance in this little heard masterwork
Robert Schumann had been exposed to Lord Byron's epic poem "Manfred" when the composer was a teenager and the implicit angst and call to self discovery within the story appealed to the young Schumann. When Schumann was older, as an adult in his early thirties, it is known that he met and was intrigued by Franz Liszt who, in turn, was taken with the works of Byron and other literary giants of the time. Schumann's 'gesamtkunstwerk' (a "complete" art work) has never received many performances in its original guise, as a nearly evening long music drama for actors, chorus and orchestra. This new DVD of a 2010 performance from the Tonhalle Dusseldorf is visually stunning and gives us a very contemporized glimpse at what Schumann intended. The "staging" here is minimalist but effective in the ultra-modern confines of the Tonhalle. Film director and visualist Johannes Deutsch creates what is basically a slide show with computer generated castle mounts, mountain scenery and cathedral-like arches onto which live camera footage of the actor Johnann von Bulow as Manfred is projected. Von Bulow performs off stage and his task is spoken melodrama of Byron's words, as edited and borrowed by Schumann. In point of fact, the real boon in this performance is that of von Bulow. As he recites the words of the 19th century romantic Count Manfred, in his railings against the futility of existence diametrically pondered against the possibilities of man and even some suicidal threats, von Bulow struggles, sweats, nearly screaming (well, actually shouting out many times) in a tour de force of recitation. The philosopher's muse, Astarte and his devil's advocate or 'geist' are also well played by Tina Amonson and Stefan Wilkening respectively. The Dusseldorf Symphony under Andrey Boreyko plays wonderfully. Some viewers will have heard "Manfred" in its more often performed orchestral suite or in selections. Film maker Johannes Deutsch's vision is a little abstract, not literal. and the very nature of the performance is something that very few are familiar with. The scope and structure of Schumann's "Manfred" make it too unusual, too dependent on dramatic forces to get it the amount of play that it, perhaps, deserves. This performance is excellent and worthwhile. It is a work for - basically - actor and orchestra. Viewers should approach it patiently; this is neither opera nor oratorio. If you become immersed in the look and the unbelievably manic work by Johann von Bulow you will find it well worth your while.
Submitted on 09/26/11 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Schumann, Robert : Manfred, Op. 115
  • Performers: Ekkehard Abele (Bass); Mechthild Bach (Soprano); Tobias Berndt (Bass); Manfred Bittner (Bass); Markus Flaig (Bass); Hans Mammel (Tenor); Elisabeth Popien (Mezzo Soprano); Johann von Bülow (Voice)
  • Conductor: Andrey Boreyko
  • Ensemble: Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1848-1849