Thursday, June 29, 2017

Schubert, Franz Peter. (1797-1828. Symphony No. 4 & 5.

Franz Peter Schubert.
New acquisition.
Bought in January 2016.
First listen: 29-6-2017.
Label: Zig-Zag Territoires.
Recording dates: December 1996.
Recording venue: Concertzaal Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Bert van der Wolf.
Running time: Approx. 58:00.
Relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performances.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 4 in C minor. "Die Tragische" D. 417. (1816)
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485. (1816)

Works performed by: 
Anima Eterna, Jos van Immerseel.

There are great yields in terms of authenticity in using an orchestra as would have been known to Schubert. Meaning foremost, gut strings. Do away with vibrato and a whole new world emerges, with sonical riches that reward all the effort that goes into recording with such an ensemble. According to the booklet a lot of research was put in this project before it came to fruition, but then the result is exceptional. I have never heard Schubert this clear, never even grasped all the details in his work, often because the fortissimos were too loud, or the timpani were booming away, aided by a multitude of basses and celli. No so with Immerseel, although I was surprised how much punch and power he had at hand. Even with his smaller forces the sound produced is more than enough to make a point or two. And a point he makes. There was and still is a lot of debate about the tempi of the movements, for Schubert was not really clear in that matter, and so everybody did as he liked, often with ruinous results. Due to all careful research Immerseel came up with very sensible solutions that work very well in the context. It is surely a case of getting used to the swifter tempi, especially in the finale of the fifth, or for that matter all allegro vivaces in both symphonies, but once adapted it makes sense. This ensemble is a perfectly drilled body of soloists. They have such a fine and cultured sound, with some added rawness in the brass as a bonus, that I can safely say that they are one of the best orchestras in the world playing on authentic instruments. These performance are in fact reference, for they show us a Schubert rarely heard. The visceral quality of this recording is gorgeous. The strings are singing, the brass has a rasping sound, the timpani wakes you up, and I see Schubert smiling. More sweetness is hardly possible. The sound is top notch, although I am not a great fan of the acoustics in the concertzaal of Tilburg. But that is a minor quibble.



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