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Notes and Editorial Reviews
A good choice … fine interpretations and excellent sound. This collection has much to offer.
The idea of a “complete” set of Schubert’s symphonies bears qualification. Schubert’s efforts in the genre include works that the composer failed to bring to completion, including Symphony in D major (sketch), D. 708a; Symphony in D major, D 615 [fragments]; Symphony in D major, D 708a [fragments]; Symphony in E Major "1825"; Symphony no 7 in E major, D 729 [sketches]; and Symphony no 10 in D major completed by Brian Newbould, D 936a. That aside, the present set of recordings represents all the conventionally “complete” symphonies by Schubert, which include the two-movement “Unfinished” D. 759. These appear here in
previously andseparately released performances by Roy Goodman and the Hanover Band (Symphonies 1-4) and Sándor Végh with the Camerata Salzburg (Symphonies 5-6, 8-9). They are issued in a neat box of four discs. It is useful to have these fine recordings available together.
The first four symphonies Schubert brought to completion fit well into the milieu Roy Goodman and the Hanover Band bring to music of this style. Their recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies are a useful point of reference, with the chamber-music style evident there lending itself well to early Schubert. That approach works well with these scores, which benefit from the intimate ensemble that Goodman achieves. The phrasing and textures are idiomatic, with the Third Symphony particularly engaging. The string playing is clear and recorded effectively, with the transfer working well in this set.
The Hanover Band’s approach is satisfying in various ways, with phrasing that suits the music. The first movements have a nice weight, with the contrasts between theme-groups differentiated without being overstated. While this holds good for all four works, the performances of the Third and Fourth Symphonies are particularly effective in this regard. With appropriate tension to effect the recapitulations each of them resolves well to produce a rounded whole.
With the other four symphonies, the chamber-music ensemble of the Camerata Salzburg works with equal efficacy for Symphonies 5 and 6. Yet with the last two symphonies, the smaller sound of the Camerata Salzburg strikes a contrast with the big symphonic tradition that exists for those scores. As much as the Camerata Salzburg’s performances are certainly effective, they fall short in terms of the sound which has become associated with those two scores, especially Symphony no. 9. The outer movements of the Great C-Major require a larger sound-world, one not far removed from the full symphony orchestra of modern practice. At the same time, Végh’s interpretation, while appealing, is hinged on the more intimate sonorities of the Camerata Salzburg. This certainly gives a good result with the inner movements, which benefit from tight ensemble and crisp playing.
It is useful to note that the recordings of the Camerata Salzburg date from the late Sándor Végh’s tenure as its leader from 1978 to 1997. The performances were issued on Capriccio in 1995, and were included in the present Brilliant set in 2011. While the Goodman recordings are also available as individual releases (along with the Symphonies nos. 5, 6, 8, and 9), it is convenient to have them in this box. Priced affordably and easily available, the Brilliant set is a good choice. With fine interpretations and excellent sound this collection of Schubert’s Complete Symphonies has much to offer.
-- James L Zychowicz, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in D major, D 82 by Franz Schubert
Written: 1813; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Hanover Band plays only four of the nine December 17, 2011
By Charles R. (Overland Park, KS) See All My Reviews
"I am very disappointed that only symphonies one through four are played by Roy Goodman and the Hanover Band, not all nine. I was particularly interested in hearing Goodman's Great C Major which is not in the set."