Having greatly enjoyed Thomas Dausgaard’s
Schumann symphonic recordings (see review
I was more than delighted to find this Schubert disc amongst my allocation.
This is still part of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Opening
Doors’ collection, though the logo isn’t being paraded with
quite as high a profile as previously and my copy had no extra cardboard
slip for the standard jewel case. Schubert’s 8th
Symphonies are already available in this series on BIS-1656.
BIS already released some Schubert Symphonies with Neeme Järvi
in the 1980s with nice performances from the Stockholm Sinfonietta,
but Dausgaard’s recordings, while drier in acoustic, are more
distinctive in terms of style.
My last encounter with Schubert’s symphonies via these pages was
with Herbert Blomstedt’s fine Berlin Classics set with the Staatskapelle
Dresden (see review
The orchestral sound is inevitably grander than with the Swedish Chamber
Orchestra, but timings with each movement are not so very different,
and I still like Blomstedt’s lightness of touch with these works,
even if the wobbly vibrato to the flute sound is bothersome. There are
no such quibbles with the orchestral sections with this BIS recording.
The music is played expressively but without any kind of over-emphasis,
the actual recording not terribly spectacular but nicely detailed and
Performing Schubert symphonies with a chamber orchestra should hold
few if any real surprises, unless you are only used to the likes of
Herbert von Karajan, whose Berlin Philharmonic recordings on EMI Gemini
are a rich and refined sonic feast but of a distinctively mid to late
Beethovenian flavour. Schubert’s symphonies were never performed
publicly in his lifetime, and the Symphony No. 6
was the only
one he heard played in rehearsal with an amateur orchestra. This is
a youthful work which makes tribute to the likes of Rossini, and the
orchestra of the time would have been more comparable with those used
by Mozart and Haydn than anything particularly Romantic. Chamber orchestra
forces do not however result in Schubert-lite, and you only have to
listen to the tremendous accents of the Scherzo
to be made aware
of the hard-hitting possibilities of such an ensemble. Fewer strings
make for a more equal partnership between these and the wind sections,
and the sense of inner dialogue is a strong aspect in this recording.
As far as I am concerned there is nothing anaemic about this performance,
and it ticks all the boxes for radiant joy and underlying drama.
Six years on from the Symphony No. 6
saw Schubert involved in
, a play which promised much but ended in humiliating
public failure, Schubert’s excellent incidental music unable to
lift the audience’s indifference to the theatre experience, but
strong enough to become popular in its own right. The sections presented
here are Entr’actes 1, 3, and 2, and the Ballet Music No. 2 and
No. 1 in that order. This is a more complete set than most ‘filler’
movements added to orchestral recordings, and with the famous tune of
Entr’acte No. 3
played with warmth and affection, the two
ballets given perfect energy and tempi and plenty of atmospheric dramas
elsewhere I can find nothing to complain about. You won’t find
the orchestral opulence of recordings such as the Chamber Orchestra
of Europe under Claudio Abbado on Deutsche Grammophon, and this is still
one of your best bets if looking for the complete Rosamunde
choir and all. Listening to this BIS recording does however make one
realise how idealised such performances can become, and it is Thomas
Dausgaard who brings us closer to the earthy reality of an orchestra
in something approaching a theatre setting.
Chamber orchestra Schubert, but with plenty of bite.