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Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Symphony No.9 in C, Great, D944 (1825) [45:51]
Symphony No.8 in B minor, Unfinished, D759 [22:00]
Entr’acte from Act II of Rosamunde, D797 (1823) [3:45]
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Adrian Boult (no.9); National Symphony Orchestra, Anatole Fistoulari (no.8); Basle Symphony Orchestra, Felix Weingartner (Rosamunde) 
rec. 17 December 1934, EMI Studio 1, Abbey Road, London (no.9); 12 December 1944, Kingsway Hall, London (no.8); 3 May 1928, Basle Musiksaal (Rosamunde) ADD re–issues of HMV DB 2415/2420 (12 sides) (no.9); Decca K1114/1116 (6 sides) (no.8); HMV C 9645 (1 side) (Rosamunde) – all 78 rpm records
BEULAH 1PD32 [71:36]


Experience Classicsonline

This is a splendid disk! Boult’s 1934 Great C major has long been a favourite of mine and it’s good to see it available once again and in very good sound. Although Boult recorded this work towards the end of his life, with the London Philharmonic, this performance has a freshness and sparkle – these things are not missing from his later performance, rather this is a younger man’s view of a towering masterpiece – Boult was in his mid thirties when he made this recording, and still Dr Boult, not Sir Adrian as the booklet calls him, the knighthood didn’t come until 1937.

Boult builds the slow introduction to the first movement gradually, making the climaxes grow easily from the music. The allegro bursts in at a cracking pace, Boult slows for the second subject – some lovely wind playing here – and then back to the chase. No exposition repeat, as you’d expect, and we plunge into the development, which starts with the most exquisite pianissimo – this recording has a very wide dynamic range.

The slow movement is taken at a nice walking pace without loosing any of its stateliness, the bass articulates clearly and precisely and the oboe is as winsome as you’d like it to be. Here is a walk in the autumn sun, with the odd shower to disturb your enjoyment of the scenery. Boult is so much lighter than many conductors and this shows in the easy flow of the music, and the climaxes don’t overpower.

It’s obvious that Boult is using a smaller orchestra than would be used today and because of this the dance–like scherzo has a more earthy fell to it than is usual. It’s a real light fantastic and full of Austrian peasant dancing. The trio is packed with wonderful harmonie sounds. The finale is a no–holds–barred race to the finish where Boult rushes, in an unhurried way, with the clearest of articulation from the strings, to a thrilling conclusion, fully worthy of this Symphony.

Fistoulari’s performance of the Unfinished is almost as fine. With excellent playing from the National Symphony Orchestra (led at this time by the great David McCallum) this performance is dramatic – this is a dramatic Symphony but too often we hear the two movements played at almost identical tempi which takes all sense of tension and excitement from it.

The Entr’acte from Rosamunde is a pleasant make–weight. There’s a bit of “scooping up” in the violins but that’s period performance for you. A delicate end to a disk full of wonderful things.

The notes in the booklet are good and the transfers have been achieved with care, cleaned up, and are full of bloom and presence. This is well worth having not just as an historical document but as an example of performances of works which we might just be taking for granted and which are freshly minted for us here.

Bob Briggs


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