We asked Alexander Shelley, music director of the NAC Orchestra: What are the five minutes you’d play to make a friend fall in love with Clara Schumann? Robert Schumann? Johannes Brahms?
Read on and listen to all the moods of Clara, Robert and Johannes: passionate, peaceful, terrifying, joyful, lyrical, heartwarming… Shelley has selected sublime excerpts from the NAC Orchestra’s recent recordings of the major works by Clara Schumann and every symphony by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms.
Stream these entire works, read album liner notes by Brahms-Schumann experts, and learn more about the JUNO Award-nominated Clara, Robert, Johannes recording project.
From September 13-21, 2023, Alexander Shelley will lead the NAC Orchestra and guest artists in FOCUS: Clara, Robert, Johannes, our season-opening festival dedicated to the music and intimate connections between these three famous composers.
Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 1: Last (4th) Movement, introduction
“This music encapsulates so much of the passion, power and humanity of Brahms. We begin with powerful, doleful, almost terrifying surges of sound followed mysterious pizzicato hushes and are led into bit by bit, with ever building momentum into a moment of hope – a horn solo over a deep bass pedal point, as if intoning from high in the alps. A brief prayer-like chorale then sets the stage for Brahms’s version of Beethoven’s ode to joy: a warm, sonorous, richly embracing string theme that lifts the soul and makes our hair stand on end.” ⏵ Listen on Soundcloud
Clara Schumann, Die gute Nacht, die ich dir sage
“An intimate and gentle birthday present from Clara Schumann to her husband Robert. At three minutes, it is an equivalent to a modern love song in the charts. It has a simple form and heartwarming text: a loving message of ‘good night’ carried by an angel between two friends. A pretty wonderful birthday gift if you ask me!” ⏵ Listen on Soundcloud
Robert Schumann, Symphony No. 2: Last (4th) Movement, final five minutes
“Robert Schumann wrote much lyrical and passionate music and this excerpt begins with almost song-like exchanges in the woodwind before the music exhales, groans and pants to a halt after a minute or so. But Schumann also had the ability to conjure hugely bright, driven and exhilarating sounds and the final moments of this symphony are precisely that. Particularly the last two and a half minutes are among my favourite joyful, smiling moments of Schumann.” ⏵ Listen on Soundcloud