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Reviews: Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8 - Dausgaard

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Reviews: 3

Review by krisjan March 12, 2010 (9 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

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Review by Arthur May 31, 2010 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
When listening to the final Schubert Sonata, I've often found myself wondering how the final two movements really fit with what went before. Oh, yes, they are pure Schubert! But the music of the first two movements is of another world! The question is made pertinent by thoughts about the "Unfinished" Symphony (I don't know whether to call it the 7th - considering that this is a "reconsidered" performance - or the more traditional 8th). Anyway, it seems to me that unlike the case of the final Sonata, in this case Schubert realized that he had created something so extraordinary that it would be pointless, even foolhardy, to append anything else. And so we have the "Unfinished"!

But what of Dausgaard? Well, he undoes everything that makes it extraordinary! It's not the small vibrato-less band, it's the fast, expressionless playing that does this performance in! I've played it over and over trying to understand how what he's doing somehow pulls us to the heart of what Schubert is expressing; but despite my efforts, I just don't hear it! (I can't believe it, I'm actually agreeing with David Hurvitz about something!)

However, the "Great" (9th/8th) is another matter! Here Dausgaard captures something essential! It seems to me in the depth of his despair about his illness and understanding of his soon-to-be-fulfilled early demise, Schubert expressed things that have only rarely and fleetingly been expressed by others. I'm thinking of the 2nd movement of D. 959, the first two movements of D. 960, Die Winterreise, the 1st movement of the "Unfinished", etc.

But the Great C Major Symphony was not one of those works! And yet, it always stood out as a work not fitting the picture we have of Schubert in his despair OR his joy!. We have a huge orchestra and hunting horns giving us a big - no make that Grand - allegro in the finale! What is that! There is nothing in his music that enters this dimension, and somehow it always sounded forced to me. It was as if Schubert was trying to outdo Beethoven, but somehow never quite got there.

Well, Dausgaard makes it all intelligible! Written on a summer holiday, it was a time of peace and relative joy for Schubert. His palette was expanding, and so we have an orchestra such as Beethoven might have used. But the sound is still Schubert. Dausgaard's performance makes this work "of a piece" with the first six Symphonies. And that is just fine by me. It IS grander and "Greater". But is still from the world of those earlier works! Fast tempi don't preclude expression, unlike in the Unfinished. What we are given is a true Great Symphony from an early 19th Century Master!

I simply loved the fact that all the interior voices were clearly audible and we heard counter-melodies along the way. Strings become an equal voice, not a dominating feature (as in efforts such as Karajan's)!

Sound is excellent! I recently got several Bis discs and the dynamic range of all of them so far is unbelievable! I normally set my volume at 60 to 65, but these discs disappear unless I crank it up to at least 72, and yet at that volume I am blowing up the neighbors when the ensemble plays full bore! None-the-less the sound picture is clear and clean, and the surround image is very realistic!

Despite my reservations about the Unfinished, I'm glad I got this disc and don't hesitate to recommend it highly!

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Review by Luukas April 24, 2014 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Franz Schubert's Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 are composer's most famous orchestral works. I heard many recordings of these works: Herbert von Karajan (Emi Classics), JoAnn Falletta (Naxos), Günter Wand (Emi Classics), Marc Minkowski (Naïve), Michail Halasz (Naxos), Philippe Herreweghe (Pentatone) and Karl Böhm (DG). But when I heard this Thomas Dausgaard's recording, I have to say that it is much better than all previous recordings. BIS label's SACD is excellent! Sound quality is fresh, natural and lightly, and Swedish Chamber Orchestra plays virtuosity. The Eight Symphony's beautiful second movement is moving, but it isn't hurry. I like it. The massive Ninth Symphony begins first horn's solo, and it is performed very good. First movement's tempi are fast, and it gives new energy of this masterpiece. Dausgaard's performance is much better than Herreweghe's SACD version. The second movement is also moving. Third movement sounds very good, but I don't like, that there are three tenutos in second and fourteenth bars. The gentle trio is very good. And the virtuosity finale is outstanding! Orchestra plays very powerful, and end is effective.
By the way, excellent purchase! If you want 'authentic Schubert' this is for you. Very exciting listening experience!

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