One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 8 in C major D 944 (1825-6) [61:08]
Brandenburger Symphoniker/Peter Gülke
rec. 2017, location not given.
Reviewed in SACD stereo.
MDG 9012053-6 SACD [61:08]

Peter Gülke’s well-written and scholarly booklet note for this release is an education in its own right, and his depth of knowledge about Schubert and this work in particular is reflected in a performance of very high quality indeed.

Gülke makes much mention of Beethoven’s influence on Schubert, and this ‘Beethovenian’ aspect of the work informs his interpretation. The orchestral sound, with rumbling timpani and sturdy brass, lends itself to a first movement whose motivic development becomes something granite-like and imperturbable. While the winds, brass and timpani are not recorded forwardly in the balance they do however overpower the strings at times, and this takes something away from the inner drama of the music. Features such as repeated notes and other rhythmic details can become lost, and this is surprising for a record label that makes much of its sound quality. The orchestral sound is certainly natural and realistic, but not particularly transparent.

The Andante con moto has a good forward momentum and is well played, but again with quite a boomy drum sound at times, and the woodwinds certainly larger in scale than the upper strings, though these are distinctive enough when their dynamic is raised. I don’t particularly want to bore on about the sound balance but I found myself wondering as much about why this wasn’t working for me as well as I’d expected, as I did about the music itself.

Tempi are uncontroversial throughout this performance, and the Scherzo is lively enough, and given plenty of bite without over-cooking Schubert’s Viennese elegance. The Allegro vivace finale has excitement but not a huge amount of bounce, and it was at this point that I was forced to the conclusion that whatever hall this recording was made in was colouring the sound just enough to make everything just a bit harder for everyone than the ideal. Listening a bit off axis can be revealing in this regard, with the overall effect showing where reflections are favouring certain resonances over others. This is not an extreme effect and this is still a very serviceable recording, but in my view reduces its attractiveness in a highly competitive market.

Frequently recorded works such as this are bound to have competition, and I have had another two SACD versions knocking around my collection for a while. Jonathan Nott with the Bamberger Symphoniker on the Tudor label (review, single disc and review, box set) is very well played and recorded and highly recommendable, though ultimately I found the distinctive character and more opulent sound of the Berliner Philharmoniker on their own label conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt marginally preferable (review). The BIS label has the Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, which is a bit of an outlier but manages to have both grandeur and chamber-music intimacy. All of these have better clarity of sound than this MDG release, and the Harnoncourt in particular has much more inner life. Peter Gülke’s Schubert has much that can be admired, but for me is alas not memorable enough to go very high on the big wobbly heap of choices.

Dominy Clements



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger