Friday, April 21, 2017

Franz Schubert - Symphony No. 10 & other unfinished symphonies (Charles Mackerras)


Information

Composer: Franz Schubert; Brian Newbould
  1. Symphony in D major, D. 615 (arr. Brian Newbould): Adagio - Allegro moderato
  2. Symphony in D major, D. 615 (arr. Brian Newbould): [Allegretto]
  3. Symphony in D major, D. 708a (arr. Brian Newbould): [Allegro vivace]
  4. Symphony in D major, D. 708a (arr. Brian Newbould): [Andante con moto]
  5. Symphony in D major, D. 708a (arr. Brian Newbould): [Scherzo and Trio: Allegro vivace]
  6. Symphony in D major, D. 708a (arr. Brian Newbould): [Presto]
  7. Symphony No. 10 in D major, D. 936a (arr. Brian Newbould): [Allegro maestoso]
  8. Symphony No. 10 in D major, D. 936a (arr. Brian Newbould): Andante
  9. Symphony No. 10 in D major, D. 936a (arr. Brian Newbould): Allegro moderato

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor
Date: 1997
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67000

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Review

Someone will have to find another name for Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony (the B minor) before too long. In fact there are six unfinished Schubert symphonies, four of them in D major. D2b, probably begun when Schubert was 14, extends to only 40 bars, and is not included here. But there are two whole movement expositions for D615, torsos of three movements and a nearly complete Scherzo for D708a, and enough sketch material for Brian Newbould to attempt a complete conjectural reconstruction of D936a, the symphony Schubert began writing in the last weeks of his life.

Inevitably some will ask, why bother? Well, apart from the increase in the sense of wonder at Schubert’s sheer productivity (when did he sleep?), there is some wonderful music here, especially the Scherzo of D708a, with its featherweight contrapuntal opening, and the slow movement of D936a, desolate and warmly consoling by turns. As a whole, D936a suggests that, even at this late stage, Schubert was still thinking in terms of new developments – the next big step. The concluding third movement, contrapuntally fusing elements of scherzo and finale, is like nothing else in Schubert – or in any other composer of the classical period.

Of course, Newbould has had to do some guessing here, but the results are on the whole strikingly authoritative. Occasionally I felt that the orchestration was a little ‘clean’ – Schubert would surely have made more use of timpani (the opening of No. 10?), and of the horns, even when the valveless instruments couldn’t supply what now seem the obvious notes. But Newbould’s refusal to over-egg the pudding is surely one of his strengths.

The performances carry plenty of conviction: the slower tempo in the first movement of No. 10 (compared with Marriner in the Philips complete set, 3/85) makes a good deal of sense. Recordings are atmospheric while allowing one to hear all significant detail. Altogether this is a fascinating disc – and not just for musicologists.

-- Stephen JohnsonGramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****

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Franz Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who was extremely prolific during his short lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century. His music is characterized by pleasing tunes while still has "a great wealth of technical finesse".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Schubert

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Charles Mackerras (17 November 1925 – 14 July 2010) was an Australian conductor. He was an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart, and the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Mackerras was known for his broad repertoire, expertise in Czech music, and use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. Mackerras recorded three Mahler symphonies and all of the symphonies of Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven. His final recording was Suk's Asrael Symphony in 2007. His final public performance saw him conduct Così fan tutte at Glyndebourne in the summer of 2010.

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