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Schu­bert Sym­phony No. 9 in C (The Great)

Bavar­ian Ra­dio Sym­phony Orches­tra/ Mariss Jan­sons

BR Klas­sik 900169 60:22 mins Com­posed in 1825-26 and usu­ally cat­a­logued in the UK as No. 9 (though num­bered 8 on this CD, as is usual in Ger­many), Schu­bert’s so-called ‘Great C ma­jor’ was his ex­pressed at­tempt to achieve a ‘Grand Sym­phony’ to mea­sure up to his great hero Beethoven. Its forms are, in out­line, more Clas­si­cal in style than those of the in­cip­i­ently Ro­man­tic ‘Un­fin­ished’ Sym­phony of 1822: the open­ing move­ment and fi­nale are both sonata forms; the slow move­ment a kind of de­vel­op­ing rondo. Yet, in their un­prece­dented length, har­monic dar­ing and in­no­va­tory or­ches­tra­tion they seem to open up a whole new sym­phonic space – a kind of proto-bruck­ner space, though Bruck­ner him­self was only just born in 1824. What the 19th cen­tury found hard to ac­cept, com­pared with the tightly in­te­grated in­ten­si­ties of Beethoven, was the seem­ing rep­e­ti­tious­ness with which Schu­bert filled out his great spans. In­deed, Ge­orge Bernard Shaw as­serted that ‘a more ex­as­per­at­ingly brain­less com­po­si­tion was never put on pa­per’. Yet an ex­cel­lence of this new live record­ing is the way Mariss Jan­sons and his Bavar­ian play­ers sub­tly bring out the har­monic changes or en­rich­ments of sur­round­ing part-writ­ing with which Schu­bert more of­ten varies his re­cur­rent long melodies. Jan­sons also re­solves the old ques­tion of just how slow the in­tro­duc­tion of the first move­ment should be by start­ing mod­er­ato and ac­cel­er­at­ing by stages into the main Al­le­gro.

For the rest, the Bavar­ian brass and wood­wind are on glow­ing, translu­cent form, and the recorded sound is warm and vi­brant. In all, a re­lease to re­new one’s ad­mi­ra­tion and love for this won­der­ful work. PER­FOR­MANCE RECORD­ING

A record­ing to re­new one’s ad­mi­ra­tion for this won­der­ful work

Top form: Mariss Jan­sons and his Bavar­ian mu­si­cians soar in Schu­bert

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