Pászti season ticket 2
Robert Schumann Paradise and the Peri, op. 50
Klára Kolonits - soprano
Ágnes Szalai - soprano
Atala Schöck - alto
Szabolcs Brickner - tenor
István Kovács - bass
Hungarian National Choir (choirmaster: Csaba Somos)
The Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Attilio Tomasello - conductor
“I finished my Paradise and the Peri last Friday, my greatest work, and I hope also my best” wrote Schumann to a friend in 1843: “I think of heaven with a heart full of gratitude, which gave me strength and kept me alert as I worked. […] I must have told you about the story of the Peri, but if I haven’t, try to obtain it: it was practically made for music. The whole idea is so poetic, so pure, that it filled me entirely with enthusiasm.” And indeed, this work that was first performed in that same year, is a peculiar marvel of music history, an unrepeatable curiosity. Even its genre is unusual: an idyll-oratorio, practically the sole successor to Haydn’s masterpiece The Seasons. It is a secular oratorio with a lyrical approach, and its subject too appears to be an everyday one: the search for happiness.
The story is based on one of the poems from Thomas Moore’s 1817 collection of fairy tales Lalla Rookh, in a form similar to the storytelling of The Arabian Nights. The peri, an expelled and repentant angel, waits before the gates of heaven hoping for forgiveness. The condition for readmittance? The peri must bring the gift that is dearest to heaven. Neither the last drop of blood from a soldier fighting for his homeland nor the final breath of a woman in love is sufficient, but redemption is finally granted for the tears of sincere repentence.
Drawn to the exotic, Schumann did not choose the path of plot action to develop the story. The composer was a master at depicting psychological states, and the work recalls his songs, symphonies, choral works and even string chamber music, with the dense, yet translucent texture that is so uniquely characteristic of him among the composers of the Romantic period.