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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No.8 in B minor D759 (1820)
Symphony No.5 in B flat major D485 (1816)
Symphony No 3 in D major D200 (1815)
The Hanover Band/Roy Goodman
No recording information given
CLASSIC COLLECTION 99877 [74.18]

Brilliant Classic Collection


During his short lifetime Schubert’s reputation as a composer rested mainly on his Lieder over 400 of them and the popular dance suites for piano. The chamber works, piano sonatas, operas and symphonies were admired by Viennese cognoscenti, but virtually ignored elsewhere, and there were few, if any, public performances. Mendelssohn conducted the Symphony No.9, the Great C Major, in Leipzig in 1839 but, with the exception of No.8, the complete cycle did not reach the European concert repertoire until the mid 20th century, and even then infrequently.

The three Symphonies on this disc are all Viennese in character, and their fluent, song-like nature is well-served by the light textures and brisk tempi adopted by the Hannover Band, giving these performances a freshness and spontaneity that make them distinctively Schubertian. The two marvellous movements of No. 8 immediately establish what makes these readings revelatory. The Band is fully equal to the drama of the first movement and the tender melancholy of the second, without the Sachertort sweetness that mars less acceptable interpretations. I find it difficult to believe that even Schubert (who was not given to brevity) would have wished to add another note to the abandoned commission now known as his ‘Unfinished’ Symphony

Tempo markings for all three works are on the fast side – andante con moto for the second movements of Nos.8 and 5, allegro molto, allegro vivace, allegro con brio, allegro vivace, vivace, and presto vivace for movements in 5 and 3 and leave little doubt that Schubert was usually looking for a lively approach. In this recording, he gets it, together with a the delightful detail and spirited playing so clearly required a tribute to Goodman and his Band, and an example to those who take a more superficial view.

After its Beethovenian opening No. 3, composed in the same year as No.2 when Schubert was 18, is obviously a precocious work, owing much to the Viennese taste for cheerful, foot-tapping tunes; yet the young composer’s craftsmanship is remarkably confident and, as played on this disc, no apology is needed for its appearance in the company of its more mature companions.

By their use of smaller-than-usual orchestral forces and meticulous attention to tempo and dynamic markings these can fairly be called ‘historically informed’ performances a term not always so well deserved. The CD case states Licensed from Nimbus UK, and contains neither an insert booklet nor details of when and where the recording was made, a small but irritating omission.


Roy Brewer



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