This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Günter Wand recorded Schubert’s Ninth (officially) three times: in Cologne, with the orchestra of NDR, and finally with the Berlin Philharmonic. All three are excellent: naturally paced, beautifully proportioned between movements in what remains one of the trickiest pieces in the repertoire, and (particularly the latter two performances) splendidly played. The Cologne performance is available as part of Wand’s complete Schubert symphony cycle with that orchestra. The Berlin performance has gotten most of the attention, largely because at the end of his life Wand was given the “privilege” of working with that great orchestra. It also comes in tandem with an equally fine “Unfinished” Symphony at two discs for the price of one. This has
left the NDR recording out in the cold, relatively speaking, which is a pity because it’s the best of the three.
You can hear the difference pretty clearly in the two sound clips comparing the end of the first movement in both performances. The Berlin outing is distinctly heavier, more “Brucknerian,” the strings playing with an excess of legato, the brass sonorities blended rather than distinct. The NDR version, by contrast, is a touch livelier, more sharp rhythmically, with trumpets and trombones adding individual tone colors to the general tutti. Ultimately it comes down to questions of taste. In my opinion, the Berlin sonority gives too much prominence to the strings, and despite exquisite solo playing by individual wind players (the oboe in the second movement, for instance), the general impression is more soft-edged and less true to Schubert’s idiosyncratic scoring. The NDR musicians are hardly inferior, and on this occasion they simply turn in a more colorful performance of this particular work. The sonics are excellent in all three of Wand’s performances, but if you can find it the NDR version is the one you should add to your collection.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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