> Franz Schubert - Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6 [TB]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 3 in D major
Symphony No. 6 in C major
Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra/Günter Wand
Rec 17-26 January 1983, Studio Stolberger Strasse, Cologne
RCA VICTOR 09026 63942 2 [56.39]


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The earlier Schubert symphonies, nos. 1-6 that is, are on the scale of Mozart rather than of Beethoven. No problem with that of course, nor is their mastery in doubt. But we have to remember that these supremely fresh masterworks are the product of a teenage composer, and modelled on the Viennese classical style of the previous generation. In due course, Schubert would go forward and develop his own powerfully unique voice in the Unfinished Symphony (No. 8) and the Great C major (No. 9).

It is the 'Little C major', the Symphony No. 6, which features here. It is a rather hard piece to bring off, the problem being to articulate the tricky rhythmic contour of the first's movement's principal material at a suitable tempo, at once lively and sensitively phrased. It is no surprise that Günter Wand manages to achieve this demanding balancing of opposing forces, and the music has never to my ears sounded so beguiling.

If the most difficult challenge is met in the first movement of this symphony, the remaining movements continue the excellent standard. It is perhaps in the Andante slow movement, when the quality of sound becomes more paramount, that a certain dryness, perhaps resulting from the remastering process, comes into focus. It is not a major problem, but in quieter passages the string tone could be more warm.

The D major Symphony No. 3 is an altogether more direct composition, its first movement developing with a true con brio sweep of exaltation. The Allegretto which follows is in lieu of slow movement, and since Wand phrases the music with such sensitivity the lyrical aspect of the music is given its focus. The remaining movements, the minuet and finale, are abundantly lively; and in the Indian summer of his career Wand achieves a youthful vigour, words which also apply to the playing of the Cologne orchestra.

Terry Barfoot


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