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Schubert: The Symphonies

Franz Schubert , Nikolaus Harnoncourt , Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (October 5, 1993)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B000000SK6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Disc: 1
1. Adagio. Allegro Vivace
2. Andante
3. Menuetto: Allegretto
4. Allegro Vivace
5. Adagio Molto/Allegro Vivace
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Largo. Allegro Vivace
2. Andante
3. Menuetto: Allegro Vivace
4. Presto Vivace
5. Adagio. Allegro
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Adagio Maestoso; Allegro con brio
2. Allegretto
3. Menuetto: Vivace; Trio
4. Presto vivace
5. Allegro
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Andante Allegro Ma Non Troppo
2. Andante Con Moto
3. Scherzo: Allegro Vivace
4. Allegro Vivace

Editorial Reviews

Everything that Nikolaus Harnoncourt does is interesting, and sometimes inspired. Even at his weirdest, he usually has a reason for doing what he does, and fortunately there's no need at all to make excuses for his marvelous Schubert symphonies. Of course, he has the Concertgebouw at his beck and call, which adds no small dimension to the success of these performances, but for the most part it's all Harnoncourt's show. Fresh, exciting, provocative, you will never hear Schubert the same way again. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harnoncourt's Schubert April 11, 2003
There are several compelling reasons why this is the Schubert cycle to own. First, it's the only one to present the scores as Schubert wrote them, without the numerous corrections and improvements which were silently added after the composer's death. Second, it's incredibly well-played (and finely recorded). Third, Harnoncourt's direction is, simply, inspired. To those with ears to hear, Harnoncourt is presenting Schubert through the composer's own eyes (or as near to that ideal as we can reasonably expect to get). In many instances it's simply a practical matter of actually observing the often ignored details in Schubert's original scores (and Harnoncourt lists them in the extensive notes accompanying this set). And these are not minor matters, either. Listen, for example, to the last measure of the exposition to the first movement of the "Unfinished" - you will hear harmonies there that you have never heard before - Schubert's original harmonies.
It's often forgotten that, despite his reputation as a pioneer in the "early music" movement, Harnoncourt is himself heir to, and very much part of, the great Viennese tradition which includes Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Lanner, Strauss, Boskovsky, Stolz and - Harnoncourt! A complementary and revolutionary (for some) aspect of Harnoncourt's makeup is his commitment to presenting works of a particular composer as directly as possible, unburdened by performance traditions which have grown up around the music since its composer has left the scene. This is achieved by taking into account all the available information about the music, practical and theoretical. And using this information in a practical way absolutely doesn't lead to sterility in performance.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Schubert Symphony Cycle April 11, 2001
Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra have created one of the finest - perhaps the definitive - Schubert symphony cycles in recent memory, and perhaps the only one which is currently available (The other critically acclaimed versions with Claudio Abbado conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Sir Colin Davis with the Dresden Staatskapelle may be out of print.). Much to my surprise, Harnoncourt recorded this cycle with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and not with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, though perhaps he did this deliberately to avoid direct comparisons with Abbado's late 1980's cycle. Yet Harnoncourt still succeeds, using revised scores that he has edited. Unlike others who view Schubert as an early Romantic composer, Harnoncourt conducts as though each score was composed by Mozart, emphasizing the rich sonority of the Concertgebouw's string and wind sections. Indeed, Schubert saw himself as a direct descendant of Haydn and Mozart, apparently ignoring Beethoven's radical departures into uncharted musical terrain. As for the Royal Concertgebouw, the orchestra responds enthusiastically to Harnoncourt's conducting with its warm, vibrant playing. Fans of Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra won't be disappointed with these splendid recordings.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive readings now, blueprints for the future August 7, 2004
It is so rare that any one conductor is good in all the symphonies of one composer--I can only think of Toscanini with Beethoven (though not all of his best performances were from the official NBC set) and Mackerras with Mozart--that one is startled to find Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a very phlegmatic and stylistically uneven conductor, produce such a magnificent, monumental set. There is not one moment in any movement of any symphony where one does not hear something new and different, not from the urtext score but from what one is used to from more "standard" performances using Brahms', and others', reorchestrations of Schubert. I remember the late Klaud Tennstedt telling me in impassioned tones, for instance, of the very clearly marked diminuendo over the final chord of the great C Major symphony. Harnoncourt does this here, as well as using cut time rather than "standard" 4/4 for the opening of that symphony's first movement. And on and on it goes. I could write 1,000 words describing all of the piquant moments and surprising "changes" one hears in these urtext editions of the Schubert symphonies, but let me summarize by saying that once you hear this set you will have a hard time accepting anyone else's interpretations except perhaps Bohm in the 9th (a gorgeous performance, often overlooked by collectors) and Toscanini in the 5th (a landmark performance, the first in the last century to use the stripped-down orchestra Schubert wrote it for).

One small caveat. Because neither the "Gastein" symphony nor the "Grand Duo" rescored for orchestra are included as No. 7, the "Unfinished" is numbered No. 7 and the Great C Major No. 8. I really do wish that Harnoncourt had given us the Gastein No. 7 as discovered about 20 years ago. But that is a small complaint in a set so full of glories. This is where you start with Schubert now....and you may never go any further because you don't have to.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars emotional, controlled, raw and controlled. August 25, 2002
It seems that with age Harnoncourt's interpretations become more profound, having all kinds of layers of emotions and intellectual reasons of doing things a certain way.
Every symphony sounds fresh, like the conductor and the orchestra are discovering the works again. It is exciting to listen to. What speaks so much for this recording is that you get entranched into the music. The musicians and the conductor let the music speak for itself, ego's are set aside. Some of the recordings are live recordings but it's barely noticable. The concentration of the audience and the muscians is intense.
This cycle is a reference, whether you are a fan of Harnoncourt's style of conducting or not.
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