BBC Music Magazine - - REVIEWS -

Sym­phony No. 8 (com­pleted by Maria Ven­zago) Kam­merorch­ester Basel/mario Ven­zago Sony 88985431382 43:07 mins

Most at­tempts that have been made to com­plete the Un­fin­ished Sym­phony, in­clud­ing this new one by Mario Ven­zago, have based the fi­nale on the first entr’acte from Schubert’s mu­sic for the play Rosamunde, which is in the ap­pro­pri­ate key of B mi­nor. For the sym­phony’s Scherzo, Schubert left a com­plete draft, though there’s no more than a trace of what he in­tended for the trio sec­tion. Ven­zago spec­u­lates that the Sym­phony was ac­tu­ally com­plete when Schubert sent it to his friend Anselm Hüt­ten­bren­ner in Graz, and that he sub­se­quently asked to have the fi­nale

back, as he wanted to use it for his

Rosamunde mu­sic, which had to be com­posed in a hurry. Hüt­ten­bren­ner, sug­gests Ven­zago, sim­ply tore the man­u­script in half, and the last two move­ments have been lost ever since. It’s all a bit far-fetched, re­ally, and Ven­zago’s com­ple­tion of the Scherzo, with two trios (again adapted from

Rosamunde) fol­low­ing one after the other, is un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of any 19th-cen­tury sym­phony. A nicer touch is the way he brings back the first move­ment’s open­ing bars near the end of the fi­nale.

Ven­zago’s no-non­sense ap­proach to the Sym­phony’s two com­pleted move­ments in­cludes swifter than usual tem­pos. The first move­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, is rather hard-driven, and the heavy ri­tar­dando at end of the fa­mous sec­ond sub­ject is ill-judged. In the end it’s hard not to feel that any at­tempt to round out Schubert’s uniquely great sym­phonic torso is doomed to fail­ure. Misha Donat

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