BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Sym­phonies Nos 1 & 6

B’rock Orches­tra/rené Ja­cobs Pen­ta­tone PTC 5186 707 (hy­brid CD/ SACD) 57:39 mins

René Ja­cobs is a con­duc­tor of strong and of­ten con­tro­ver­sial views, and these per­for­mances of youth­ful Schu­bert sym­phonies are noth­ing if not thought-pro­vok­ing. Cer­tainly, there are imag­i­na­tive touches – the re­duced body of strings at the del­i­cate start of the Sixth Sym­phony’s fi­nale is one – but many of Ja­cobs’s tem­pos are so hard­driven that the mu­sic’s es­sen­tial charm, to say noth­ing of its clar­ity, is lost. The last move­ment of the Sym­phony No. 1 is ac­tu­ally so fast that an in­ter­mit­tent ‘dot­ted’ rhythm be­comes lit­er­ally un­playable.

When it comes to the scherzo of No. 6 Ja­cobs seems to be at a loss. His de­tailed book­let notes sug­gest that Schu­bert must have been bored when writ­ing the trio sec­tion, and that its com­plete lack of so­phis­ti­ca­tion was sim­ply in­tended to be provoca­tive. Ja­cobs also re­gards the trio’s tempo mark­ing of più lento as mean­ing just a lit­tle slower than the scherzo’s presto in­di­ca­tion. But Schu­bert was ob­vi­ously in­flu­enced by the slow trio sec­tions in the scherzo of Beethoven’s Sev­enth Sym­phony, and if his trio is played at a much slower pace ev­ery­thing falls into place. Ja­cobs ob­serves all the re­peats, and of­fers that as his ex­cuse for tak­ing the da capo of the scherzo at an even faster speed than the first time. All quite baf­fling.

Ja­cobs is much more suc­cess­ful in the slow move­ments, and the alert play­ing of the aptly ti­tled B’rock Orches­tra en­sures that one is never bored. But in the end it’s hard not to feel that the re­lent­lessly high­volt­age ap­proach is self-de­feat­ing. Misha Donat



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