Listening to David Zinman`s customarily dynamic rendition of Schumann`s 4 symphonies with the Tonhalle Orchestra - and broadcast in the UK for the first time last week - it struck me how these works which exude spontaneity traced a natural entomological pattern my writings have been highlighting for two decades now.
Beginning with the sprung rhythms of the First Symphony - the Spring - the succeeding works in the cycle follow a clear progression from this egg that provides the impetus, through No. 2 into the 3rd - the Rhenish -which quivers with chrysalitic impatience to be realized in the final liberated 4th Symphony.
Just as Romantic poets in Britain sought to emulate the massive presence of Shakespeare, so nineteenth-century symphonists always felt Beethoven looming over them. Here in the giant span of Schumann`s symphonic progression is an instinctive emulation that remains close to the nerve-ends of the performers and listeners. The fact is that human thought and true creativity follow processes in metamorphic nature, and our experience paradoxically allows us to share a process of nature apparently alien to our species.