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Schubert: Overtures / Manfred Huss, Haydn Sinfonietta Wien

Schubert / Wien / Huss
Release Date: 05/15/2012 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1862  
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

No better way to hear this still little known portion of Schubert’s genius.

What wonderful music this is! While I have heard a Schubert overture a few times during concert-going years, this area of the composer’s oeuvre is almost completely unknown to me. After hearing this recording, I realize that is my loss. 

As is often said or written in discussions of Schubert’s orchestral writing, the shadow of Beethoven is omnipresent. That shadow is more visible here because the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien performs using original instruments. Consequently, the sound and performance style are similar to what we have come to expect from period instruments performing Beethoven: a smaller body of strings using a
Read more minimal amount of vibrato, with winds and brass well to the fore, and timpani played with hard mallets. This sound-world is entirely convincing, save for a few instances where I yearned for a richer, more substantial bass line, something only possible with a great number of cellos and basses. However, Schubert’s wonderful writing for the brass, most especially the horns, sounds glorious with the variegated colors of period brass, as opposed to the more homogeneous sound we would hear from modern instruments. In short, the benefits of using period instruments greatly outweigh any negatives.
 
The program is chronological, thereby giving the listener a view into Schubert’s progress as he relies less on models and gains confidence in his own dramatic voice. As conductor Manfred Huss points out in his notes, the wind writing is especially demanding, and it is thrilling to hear it performed with such virtuosity by these players.
 
Each work proffers inventive and impressive music, whether it be the flute arabesques on Der Spiegelritter, the timpani writing of Des Teufels Lustschloss, the horn writing that begins Die Zwillingsbrüder - the examples are too numerous to list. Additionally, Schubert’s mastery of structure and form develops right before your ears! Yes, if you know Beethoven’s Overtures, some of this material will sound familiar. Die Verschworenen/Der Häusliche Krieg could easily be mistaken as the work of Rossini, and the powerful downward octave drops over powerful timpani rolls in Alfonso und Estrella left me wondering if Bruckner knew Schubert’s orchestral writing. Yet there are just as many moments where the beautiful melodic writing, unexpected harmonic shifts and unerringly paced climax could only be the work of Schubert.
 
The Haydn Sinfonietta Wien plays with virtuosity and unflagging energy, featuring crisp articulation and beautiful ensemble work from each section. This is music that both conductor and orchestra clearly believe in. The many solo passages are rendered with considerable grace and beauty, most especially those for flute and oboe. The timpani player is clearly having a ball, and that fabulous horn writing is thrillingly realized.
 
The most obvious rival to this CD are the two Naxos recordings released in the last few years, the complete overtures performed by the Prague Sinfonia, led by Christian Benda. I have not heard those performances, but they have received almost unanimous positive accolades. A comparison of timings reveals that, for the most part, Benda and Huss often come within seconds of one another, with the exception of Fierabras, where Benda’s performance is almost 50 seconds longer. I would suspect that Benda uses a larger orchestra than Huss, but the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien is currently the only the one to offer performances of these works on original instruments. Their sound, as well as their performances, make for thrilling listening.
 
The notes, written by conductor Huss, are a model of their kind: informative and compelling. His passion for this music leaps off the page - and through the speakers. The recording itself is very fine, though not matching what Bis would accomplish today. I would have liked to hear the original Koch/Schwann recording to compare what BIS's re-mastering has improved. The sound in tuttis becomes somewhat congested and the timpani tend to become boomy above forte. Yet the overall picture is bright and analytical, allowing a wealth of inner detail to emerge. The musician’s enthusiasm for this program is plainly evident, making this an entirely engaging hour-plus. There is no better way to hear this still little known portion of Schubert’s genius.
 
-- David A. McConnell , MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Fierrabras, D 796: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Die Zwillingsbrüder, D 647: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Die Verschworenen, D 787 "Der haüsliche Krieg": Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1822-1823; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Die Freunde von Salamanka, D 326: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Des Teufels Lustschloss, D 84: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
6.
Der vierjährige Posten, D 190: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Der Teufel als Hydraulicus Overture in D major, D 4 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1812; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Der Spiegelritter, D 11: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
9.
Claudine von Villa Bella, D 239: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Alfonso und Estrella, D 732: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Manfred Huss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1821; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Der Teufel als Hydraulicus, D. 4: Overture
Der Spiegelritter, D. 11: Overture
Des Teufels Lustschloss, D. 84: Overture
Der vierjahrige Posten, D. 190: Overture
Claudine von Villa Bella, D. 239: Overture
Die Freunde von Salamanka, D. 326: Overture
Die Zwillingsbruder, D. 647: Overture
Alfonso und Estrella, D. 732: Overture, "Rosamunde"
Die Verschworenen (Der hausliche Krieg), D. 787: Overture
Fierabras, D. 796: Overture

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Fine Schubert, Dull recording July 6, 2012 By D. Stewart (Flagstaff, AZ) See All My Reviews "What a big disappointmet in that the music is wonderful but the recording does not let the various instruments be heard as they should be. There is no sense of space in the recording. It sounds like the orchestra is down a long halway rather than closer to the microphones. This is really unfortunate for this kind of music. I'd pass this one up. These needed a Roger Norrington period instrument approach with their customary clear crisp presentation.." Report Abuse
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