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Schubert: Complete Overtures / Christian Benda, Prague Sinfonia

Franz / Prague Sinfonia / Benda
Release Date: 10/25/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 19  
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 1 
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Blu-ray Audio:  $19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an audio-only (i.e., with no video content) Blu-ray disc playable only on Blu-ray players.


Schubert wrote his first theatrical work when he was fourteen and his hopes of success in the genre, never truly realised, were long lasting. He wrote concert overtures and music for Singspiele (Song-plays), in some of which he was guided by his teacher, Salieri. The music for the melodrama Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp) is better known as the Overture to Rosamunde, but evidence of his captivating vitality, tunefulness and theatricality is everywhere to be heard.

Reviews of the original CD versions.

You may feel drawn to this disc out of a sense of duty. You know that you ought
Read more to know more of Schubert’s overtures than the so-called “Rosamunde” or the Overtures in the Italian Style. So you put this disc on – and are immediately transported with a sense of sheer delight. What is more, this continues throughout the disc as one engaging work follows another. At the end you pour yourself another cup of Earl Grey and start again. Well, at least that was my experience.

You may know all of these early works already and have scores or good recordings of them, in which case none of this will come as a surprise. For those who do not, let me explain that the nine overtures on this disc are all relatively early works written for a variety of purposes. Some are for operas or plays, some are concert works, and the last was probably written for a Cantata in honour of the Chief Inspector of Elementary Schools, a man also in charge of the fund for teachers’ widows. Despite that it is a very engaging piece. The notes by Keith Anderson helpfully explain the origins of each Overture, but I doubt whether you would be able to distinguish which is which without those notes. They are however unfailingly attractive, most with slow introductions followed by sonata-form movements. If you enjoy Schubert’s first three Symphonies, you will certainly enjoy these pieces which are very much in a similar vein and with similar virtues, especially in respect of the very characteristic scoring. Over and over again the listener will find themselves delighted by a turn of phrase, an unexpected harmony or deft orchestration.

Although clearly this is essentially down to the composer, much of the pleasure of the disc is also due to the bright but affectionate performances by the Prague Sinfonia, an expanded version of the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Christian Benda comes from a very distinguished family of Czech musicians and directs performances that are just right for these pieces, avoiding on the one hand blandness and on the other excessive point making. The recording quality is clear and full.

You will have gathered by now that I have had considerable pleasure from this disc. Completeness can be a mixed blessing, but on this occasion I am very glad that Naxos have decided to do this in respect of a category as unexpected as Schubert’s Overtures.

-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International

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As this second volume of overtures shows, there really is quite a bit of little-known Schubert orchestral music. Perhaps the biggest discovery for many listeners will be the turbulent Overture in E minor, but there are more than a few substantial pieces here. The two Overtures in the Italian Style are delightful, and so true to their models, and all of the music here is very well played and recorded. Benda and the Prague Sinfonia deliver a particularly vivacious account of the Rosamunde Overture, just the opposite of the thick and heavy "German" approach that we so often hear, while Fierabras also has plenty of energy. The sonics capture the players very naturally, with nicely present woodwinds and excellent balances between brass and strings. No qualms here: Go for it.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Overture in D major, D 556 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
2.
Overture in D major, D 590 "In the Italian style" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 54 Secs. 
3.
Overture in C major, D 591/Op. 170 "In the Italian Style" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 26 Secs. 
4.
Overture in E minor, D 648 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 12 Secs. 
5.
Die Zauberharfe, D 644: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 10 Minutes 22 Secs. 
6.
Die Zwillingsbrüder, D 647: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Alfonso und Estrella, D 732: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1821; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 5 Minutes 48 Secs. 
8.
Die Verschworenen, D 787 "Der haüsliche Krieg": Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1822-1823; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Fierrabras, D 796: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 8 Minutes 49 Secs. 
10.
Der Teufel als Hydraulicus Overture in D major, D 4 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1812; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 38 Secs. 
11.
Der Spiegelritter, D 11: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Length: 8 Minutes 32 Secs. 
12.
Overture in D major, D 12 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1811/1812; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 8 Minutes 16 Secs. 
13.
Overture in D major, D 26 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1812; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 36 Secs. 
14.
Des Teufels Lustschloss, D 84: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Length: 9 Minutes 4 Secs. 
15.
Der vierjährige Posten, D 190: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 22 Secs. 
16.
Claudine von Villa Bella, D 239: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 56 Secs. 
17.
Die Freunde von Salamanka, D 326: Overture by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 5 Minutes 54 Secs. 
18.
Overture in B flat major, D 470 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Christian Benda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 5 Minutes 50 Secs. 

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