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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D759 "Unfinished" [26.47]
Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D944, "The Great" [48.22]
Spoken introduction by Georg Tintner [4.30]
Symphony Nova Scotia/Georg Tintner
Rec. live 12 December 1990 (8); 10 February 1988 (9) DDD
Tintner Memorial Edition Vol. 2
NAXOS 8.557234 [79’ 41"]

 

This is Volume 2 of the projected 12-volume ‘Tintner Memorial Edition’ from Naxos. Volumes 1 to 7 were recorded live, with volumes 10 to 12 recorded in the studio, all with the Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS). Volumes 8 and 9, presently not yet available, are recordings of live performances with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada - these (mainly) original Canadian Broadcasting Company recordings on Naxos, pressed in Canada, are only just now becoming available in the UK.

The disc commences with a fascinating, informative and charismatic live spoken introduction by Tintner himself about the Unfinished Symphony. It is easily forgotten, hearing these broadcast transcriptions, just how much of a low point the SNS of Halifax had sunk to during the dark days of the dissolution of the old Atlantic Symphony and the faltering recovery under Boris Brott. Georg Tintner's arrival as music director there produced results that were nothing short of miraculous ... and this in little more than a year,. The SNS is the only professional Canadian orchestra east of Quebec. It has a basic strength of 37 players. This is fine for Schubert but quite how they manage with such small forces in The Walk to the Paradise Garden on their excellent studio-recorded Delius disc (Volume 10 of the Tintner Memorial Edition), one hesitates to guess! The Schubert performances here are both exuberant and vibrant and reflect the lifelong association of the conductor with this composer and with Vienna, the city of both Schubert’s and Tintner’s birth. The performances have a certain serenity and ‘other-worldly’ quality combined with a tremendous strength, purpose and deliberation often lacking in other performances. There are some truly wonderful moments - listen to the exultant middle section of the first movement and the beguiling and atmospheric clarinet entry towards the beginning of the second movement of the Unfinished. Inevitably, being live, there is some audience intrusion with the occasional cough, particularly at the end of movements. The acoustic tends to be rather ‘boxy’ and somewhat restricted at times but this in no way detracts from committed interpretations of Schubert’s two most highly regarded symphonies. As explained in the programme notes, Tintner does not observe all the repeats for this live performance of The Great for programming reasons. Even though this is at bargain price and a live recording one does not have to make any apologies or excuses in making this a top recommendation.

Em Marshall



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