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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 9 in C major Great D.944 (1828): ((i) Andante - Allegro ma non troppo [16:05]; (ii) Andante con moto [14:25]; Scherzo: Allegro vivace [15:00]; (iv) Allegro vivace [16:17])
Bamberger Symphoniker/Jonathan Nott
rec. Joseph-Keilberth-Saal, Bamberg, 19-22 September 2006
TUDOR SACD 7144 [61:44]



Jonathan Nott’s Bamberg Schubert project comes to a conclusion after a gap of almost three years since the other symphonies were recorded. Not that you could tell since his conception remains consistent, and this new disc has the excellent playing and recorded sound accorded to its predecessors (see reviews linked below).

This is the first recording of the Great C major symphony to be based on the latest critical edition – the Neue Schubert-Gesamtausgabe. It is here designated No. 8 (although more usually known as No. 9) and in the booklet Alfred Beaujean suggests that it was written in 1825 rather than the last year of Schubert’s life, as has generally been thought.

Nott’s approach to the early works was weightier than usual and there were some notably slow tempi – most strikingly in the first movement of the Unfinished. One might therefore have expected him to be in his element in this work, and so it proves. Almost sixty-two minutes on the clock sounds - and is - a lot for this work but his tempi are barely slower than the norm; it is the repeats that are probably most responsible for extending the work to almost Brucknerian proportions.

Nott and the Bambergers avoid any feeling of routine and capture well the various moods of the work. The opening slow introduction is quite magical and the transition to Allegro perfectly poised. In the slow movement of Schubert’s "heavenly lengths" there is a depth of feeling, even pathos at times, which I had not recognised in this music before. The scherzo dances along in stately fashion with some lovely woodwind playing; all is wonderfully balanced between the sections of the orchestra. In my book the finale primarily needs to be joyous in feeling - perhaps this why I shall persist in thinking of it as No. 9 - and here the sun really does come out.

Overall, this is a superb version of the Great – one that captures the spirit of Schubert and yet manages to be individual. The disc crowns an interesting cycle, worthy to stand alongside some illustrious competition. If you are looking for these works on SACD then choice should be easy. Otherwise Nott’s cycle looks expensive and hopefully will be issued in a mid-price box in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, this disc would make a fine sampler.


Patrick C Waller


Links to reviews of other discs in the Tudor Schubert Symphony series:

Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 & 8
Symphonies Nos. 2, 4, 5 & 6

 


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