Following a highly successful series ‘Mendelssohn in Birmingham’, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with their former Chief Conductor Edward Gardner here presents the first volume in a new surround-sound series: Schubert Symphonies.This first volume comprises of three symphonies spanning across Schubert’s short productive composing life. His Symphony No. 3 (1815), with its extensive and evolving slow introduction modelled on late Haydn is followed by the culminating distillation of Schubertian classicism that is his ‘little’ Symphony No. 5 (1816). Scored for chamber orchestra, it tells of much more of an influence of Mozart, for whom Schubert seemed to have felt a special affinity with around this time. Completing the album isRead more Schubert’s much more intense (with a turbulent first movement and serene second) Symphony No. 8 “unfinished” (1822), of which only the first two movements and a skeleton sketch of a third Scherzo movement were completed.
These performances claim their right to coexist side by side with those that approach Schubert in perhaps a more period-practices-conscious way. Gardner and the City of Birmingham Orchestra prove once again, if proof be needed, that the “big-band” ways of yesteryear by the likes of Karl Böhm with the Berlin Philharmonic and Carlos Kleiber with the Vienna Philharmonic will never be wrong, and that there is ample room on the shelf for a new cycle of Schubert’s symphonies this superbly played and stunningly recorded.