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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828).
Symphonies No. 5 D485 and No. 8 "Unfinished" D759
Overtures in the Italian Style D590 and D591
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Recorded Concertgebouw November 1992
APEX 0927 40840-2 [69.29] Superbudget


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From Harnoncourtís conspicuously successful traversal of the complete symphonies comes this disc of the Fifth and Eighth symphonies coupled with the two Italian Overtures. Not for Harnoncourt the untroubled open-hearted lyricism of, say, Beecham in the Fifth. This is a serious minded but never ponderous reading fully alive to the not-so-hidden depths of the music. String tone is lithe, unsaturated; woodwind is stunningly accurate. The Andante con moto receives a performance of true gravity properly observant of Schubertís tempo marking whilst in the Allegro vivace untrammelled joy is subverted into something rather more troubling.

The Unfinished receives, if anything, an even finer reading. Harnoncourt seldom has recourse to interventionist tactics in this music. His control of rhythm and balance is exemplary. The recording itself is one of the utmost clarity and illustrates the subtle delineation of line which Harnoncourt is able to bring to bear and which the Concertgebouw Orchestra at all times exemplifies. The performance is dark and introspective with a gravity and seriousness that is deeply admirable.

The Italian Overtures are more than insignificant fillers. Strongly recommended.

Jonathan Woolf


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