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Schubert: Symphony No. 9 "The Great" / Herreweghe

Album Summary

>Schubert, Franz : Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great"
Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

PentaTone's new release features the Royal Flemisch Philharmonic playing Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944. Nicknamed The Great C major, this is the final symphony completed by Franz Schubert. The orchestra is led by Philippe Herreweghe, who is famous for his interpretation of early music. Thus, his expertise is now "imposed" on this modern orchestra.

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
One of the great benefits of performing Classical and Romantic works in period style is the transformation that lean textures, agile rhythms, and fleet tempos can bring to an overly familiar work. Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great," is a much-loved classic that almost everybody knows in modern guise, with full orchestral sections, rich colors, and stately pacing. So the idea that a worthwhile performance could be transparent and quite brisk, with reduced forces and a more focused ensemble sound, may seem a bit far-fetched. But Philippe Herreweghe and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic have performed the symphony this way for PentaTone Classics, and the hybrid multichannel SACD is an ear-opener. The tempos may be a bit faster than is comfortable (for instance, Herreweghe takes the first movement at Allegro molto vivace, rather than Allegro ma non troppo), and the orchestra seems pared down, with something of the quality of a chamber orchestra, with the woodwinds predominating. But because of the differences of pacing and clearer instrumental timbres, this is a tremendously exciting rendition, and there's no denying the almost palpable energy of the orchestra.

One may quibble with historically informed performance practices, but the results are what matter most, and Herreweghe gets the most out of the music through his methods. No one can complain about Schubert's drawn out repetitions or expanded time scale, because these go by quickly at the fast clip, and the full force of Schubert's expressions are felt in the orchestra's immediacy and clarity. This might not be the version of "The Great" that hide-bound traditionalists would accept, but it is one of the most thrilling recordings of this masterpiece available and not to be missed.

BBC Music Magazine
This is a performance of the wide-open spaces: fresh, invigorating air; rhythms with a spring in their step; impressive vistas...[Herreweghe] understands that driving the Finale at breakneck speed is not the best way to generate momentum, and he holds the attention despite his observing all the repeats...The sound is wonderful: atmospheric but always clear and beautifully balanced.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Antwerp, Belgium (07/2010).


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Works Details

>Schubert, Franz : Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great"
  • Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe
  • Running Time: 57 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1825-1828