Pablo Heras-Casado: my German Romantics top five
In an exclusive IDAGIO playlist, conductor Pablo Heras-Casado shares his favourite recordings featuring German Romantic music.Read more…
Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Concertgebouworkest
After having listened and played some Schubert Lieder in my student years, this recording was my first “love affair" with his symphonies. The elegance in the sound and phrasing, the sense of beauty and fragility, the transparency... this sound world had an enormous impact on me when I was starting to learn symphonic literature. And of course there’s this miraculous combination of Harnoncourt, who was a key figure for me when I was discovering the “historical performance” practice, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with its glorious sound and tradition. It was proof to me that tradition and historical knowledge could meet wonderfully.
Schumann: Symphony No. 2 in C major
Paavo Järvi, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Schumann's Second Symphony for me is without doubt one of the most perfect and moving symphonies of the whole repertoire. It's simply perfect and contains everything: great symphonic length and structure, complex and sophisticated rhythmic and motivic development, deep emotional moments (what a third movement!), complex harmonies in its structure and melodic lines, brilliance and freshness as well as virtuosic and elaborated orchestration in which all instruments and sections shine. The impact of this symphony is always new and strong.
Schumann: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor
Isabelle Faust, Pablo Heras-Casado, Freiburger Barockorchester
After having conducted Schumann’s music for years I have to admit that I didn’t know his violin concerto until I had the chance to embark on one of the most beautiful musical and personal projects I’ve been in: spending one full month touring and recording Schumann’s three concertos with the most wonderful company: Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikow, Jean-Guihen Queyras, and the amazing Freiburger Barockorchester. It was a journey through rediscovery for us, and the violin concerto was completely new for me. It's a piece from another world. Sadly there aren’t currently many opportunities to hear this concerto live. I'm sure this will change in the future!
Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Symphony for String Orchestra No. 8 in D major - Concerto Köln
Mendelssohn has always been a fantastic companion on my musical journey. I used to sing many of his incredible choral pieces and later discovered the wonderful repertoire for string orchestra when I began conducting. Mendelssohn string symphonies are a unique catalogue of everything that a string group can provide: full of extreme virtuosity in most of these symphonies, wonderful mastering of all composition techniques and styles available in that period, and a collection of beautiful melodies and intense and sophisticated motivic work. It's a joy to listen to one symphony after the other and discover this unparalleled talent in a young man of only 13 years!
Schubert: Ständchen / Gesang der Geister über den Wassern / An die Sonne - John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir
John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir have been a constant in my life since I was a teenager. I used to buy almost everything that they released. In those times it was not so easy to get a recording in Granada so I had to travel to Madrid just to get the much anticipated new arrivals of the Monteverdi Choir and other ensembles! Having conducted choirs myself for eight years the discovery of this recording marked a new reference for me. The selection of the repertoire, the level of the performance (not only the choir, but the instrumentalists and vocal soloists!!) presents Schubert at its best. Beyond his symphonies and song cycles, this is a unique way of discovering (or re-discovering) his music.
Bonus Choice - Mendelssohn: Arias from “Elias” - Philippe Herreweghe, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées
This is one of the central pieces of the romantic repertoire and especially in every choir's repertoire. It's a piece that I got to know quite late after having already conducted most of Mendelssohn's music. Somehow I had the idea of an “old fashioned” oratorio, but then I discovered a striking, highly expressive, modern and dramatic piece, wonderfully structured in which characters are beautifully defined and the choir and orchestra have a powerful and modern theatrical and dramatic role. It's a monumental work but here I want to highlight three wonderful arias. They are arias that the protagonist, Elias, sings in different moments, which are full of humanity in its widest range. There's a certain memory of baroque music and in particular Johann Sebastian Bach: Here, as the prophet, Elias, speaks the language of God. And in music we all know who God is.