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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Complete Overtures - Volume 2
Overture in D major D556 (1817) [6:46]
Overture in the Italian Style in D major D590 (1817) [7:54]
Overture in the Italian Style in C major D591 (1817) [7:27]
Overture to “Rosamunde” (originally to “Die Zauberharfe”) D644 (1820) [10:23]
Overture to “Die Zwillingsbrüder” D647 (1819) [4:01]
Overture in E minor D648 (1819) [6:11]
Overture to “Rosamunde” (originally to “Alfonso und Estrella”) (1821) D732 [5:50]
Overture to “Die Verschworenen” D787 (1823) [7:03]
Overture to “Fierabras” D796 (1823) [8:53]
Prague Sinfonia/Christian Benda
rec. Arco Diva-Domovina, Prague, 10-12 November 2006
NAXOS 8.570329 [64:28]
Experience Classicsonline

Volume 1 of this set was immensely enjoyable (see review); but nowhere near as much as the present volume. The Overtures are arranged in rough chronological order, so that whilst those in the first disc were undoubtedly enjoyable, it has to be admitted that none could be described showing the composer at the top of his art. When we come to the present disc, however, we find not only several pieces which are deservedly very familiar and often played, in particular the two Overtures in the Italian Style and that usually known as “Rosamunde” (D644), but above all the immensely impressive Overture to “Fierabras”. Whilst the opera to which it belongs may be a lost cause it is extraordinary that the Overture is not played more often. It has all the characteristics and quality of Schubert’s later Symphonies and Piano Sonatas. The present performance combines urgency and sensitivity and if you do not have a recording already the disc would probably be worth having for it alone.

The first three Overtures on the disc are all relatively lightweight but utterly delightful. Although the two “in the Italian Style” do make use of some of the manner of Rossini Overtures who was very popular in Vienna at the time, they now seem even more “in the early Schubert Symphony style”, with delightfully fresh melodies, copious use of solo wind instruments, and a prevailing cheerfulness of manner. The two “Rosamunde” Overtures are too well known to need comment, but like all the rest they are played here with great panache. Amazingly despite certain superficial similarities between all the various Overtures I found that the disc was one which it was a great pleasure to play through as a whole.

The recording is clear without being too close, and the booklet notes are helpful and well laid out. To have all of Schubert’s Overtures on disc may seem a luxury, but with performances like this you can only wonder why it has not been done before.

John Sheppard 



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