In 1928, the centenary of the death of Schubert, the Columbia Graphophone Company of New York offered a prize for a completion of the Unfinished Symphony or a new Symphony written in the spirit of Schubert. The first prize for a completion of the Schubert Unfinished Symphony went to Frank Merrick which was recorded - don’t you want to hear that? - the overall winner of the new work was Kurt Atterberg’s 6th Symphony, and the prize for the Austrian zone entry went to Franz Schmidt for his 3rd Symphony.
Schmidt’s 3rd Symphony is easy-going, full of good tunes and without any of the emotional weight of its predecessor. It’s a straightforward, four movement, work, with the slow movement placed second. As with his previous recordings of Schmidt’s 1st and 2nd Symphonies Sinaisky gives a solid and basic performance but, as with the others, there’s something missing. The problem here is the timing of the performance. Sinaisky takes 50 minutes over the work, which is Schimidt’s own timing in the score, but it seems to drag all the way. In his recording for Chandos (CHAN 9000), Neeme Järvi takes about 42 minutes, while Carl Melles, in his 1977 recording for Classical Excellence (long deleted), takes an astonishing 40½ minutes. Likewise, a 1978 BBC broadcast performance by the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, as it was then, under Milan Horvat took about 53 minutes. In all three performances the music flows more smoothly and in a Schubertian spirit - which is, after all, what the Symphony is supposed to be. Certainly, these faster tempi work to the advantage of the music and give it a lively step, which suits it to perfection.
The Chaconne fares better, but again the tempo is slow - especially when compared to a performance conducted by Edo de Waart in the Concertgebouw in February last year, when he took 24 minutes over it. However, here the unfolding variations gain slightly from this slower tempo for each repeat of the chaconne figure and its figuration, are given the space to breathe and grow.
This recording is excellent, and captures the big orchestra of the Chaconne perfectly. As an interpretation, it’s probably better to go to Järvi’s recording of the Symphony, but this performance of the Chaconne is well worth having.