I recently picked up a copy of Phillipe Herreweghe's recording of Scenes from Goethe's Faust by Schumann. With all due respect to Johannes Brahms, who considered the work uneven, I think that it is a neglected masterpiece. Why this work is not performed more often is a mystery to me. Is anyone else familiar with it?
I know the work moderately well in the Abaddo recording. I agree that it is a neglected masterpiece, but I also know that a lot of people consider it less than a masterpiece. This seems to be one of those "received ideas" that never goes away because it is never closely examined.
Another "received idea" regarding Schumann is that he didn't know how to orchetrate. To my ears, Schumann's orchetral works are in no need of touching up. Schumann knew what he was doing. This past season I heard an absolutely lucid performance of his 4th symphony with Roberto Abbado leading the Boston Sympony Orchestra.
The Britten recording of Scenes from Goethe's Faust is on my "to-get" list, especially after hearing the Boston Symphony perform the War Requiem last season and subsequently getting Britten's own recording of it. It would be intersting to hear how one composer understands the work of another composer.