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Schubert: Symphonies 3 & 8; Liszt / Masur, New York Philharmonic

Schubert / Berezovsky / New York Phil / Masur
Release Date: 02/17/2009 
Label:  Apex   Catalog #: 698965   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertFranz Liszt
Performer:  Boris Berezovsky
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It would be fanciful to claim that Liszt’s arrangement for piano and orchestra of Schubert’s Wandererfantasie gives us the piano concerto that Schubert never wrote, though Schubert’s solo original, with its four-movements-in-one, was a model for Liszt’s own First Piano Concerto, completed in the years just before he made this Wandererfantasie arrangement. There aren’t too many bars for Liszt’s orchestra here that sound as if they might have been written by Schubert. Even so, the score is a seriously intentioned and ingenious piece of delegation, Berezovsky arguing that it reveals the wealth of the original’s ideas in a far less effortful manner. Yet, it is worth bearing in mind Brendel’s suggestion that it should not be considered as an Read more attempt to improve on Schubert’s original, but rather as an interesting example of stylistic contrast. And it is a tribute to this performance that those contrasts here appear integrated rather than incongruous (the piano/orchestra balance is also perfectly integrated; a model of how these things should be done).

Compared with more emotive interpretations (such as Bernstein’s), contrasts appear a little underplayed in the Unfinished Symphony’s first movement – the contrasts of dark mystery and impassioned outburst; contrasts of texture as well (trombones are a rounded rather than threatening presence) – and whereas in the recent Sir Colin Davis recording (part of a four-disc set), you sense that much of the song hardly dare raise its voice, here it is more openly sung (partly a question of acoustics). Masur seems to encourage his horns to play with a warm tone and vibrato that put you in mind of his old orchestra in Leipzig (or Davis’s Dresdeners), but how well this matches the vibrato of the strings and woodwind in the second movement’s opening theme. And in the second group here, the sections marked pianopianissimo stand in relief as such (the first movement has no ppp markings), suggesting that Masur has gauged the symphony’s dynamic contours very carefully.

The disc opens with a Third Symphony which engages by virtue of well-chosen tempos, and a military exactitude more than offset by momentary affection. And the recording is as clear and fresh (and cool) as a bright spring morning. As these are live performances, there is more extraneous noise than you would expect from a studio recording, but applause has been removed.

-- J.S., Gramophone [11/1998] Reviewing original release
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 3 in D major, D 200 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1997/10/1997 
Length: 22 Minutes 34 Secs. 
2.
Wanderer Fantasy (Schubert) for Piano and Orchestra, S 366 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Boris Berezovsky (Piano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1852; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 21 Minutes 11 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 26 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 3 in D major, D 200 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: Live 
5.
Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: Live 
6.
Wanderer Fantasy (Schubert) for Piano and Orchestra, S 366 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Boris Berezovsky (Piano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1852; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: Live 

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