SCHUBERT Early Symphonies and Stage Music
Pentatone returns to Schubert’s youthful symphonic output just a matter of months after its issue of the B’Rock Orchestra’s disc of Nos 1 and 6 (2/19) – the sort of A&R scheduling clash that can only be the result of a series of meetings at the highest level. No matter, for the two sets are different enough: period vs modern instruments, for a start, and directorship from two musicians, René Jacobs and Lawrence Foster, whose respective outlooks might not be considered to overlap very much.
Foster, for example, doesn’t go in for Jacobs’s extremes of tempo. That doesn’t mean that these aren’t lithe, responsive performances. Strings are well drilled, woodwind chatty and personable. Foster knows how he wants this music to go and communicates his vision to his players. The gradual diminishing of Schubert’s reliance on the examples of Haydn and Mozart is traced well from First Symphony to Third; and, even against the constant presence of Beethoven, Schubert’s individual voice – absolutely there right from the beginning – gains in strength and confidence.
The perkiness of the Third’s woodwind solos carries over into the conscious italianità of the Rossini-influenced Overture, D590. The synthesis is represented by the three entr’actes and two ballet musics from the incidental music to Rosamunde. Is this the start of a cycle to run alongside B’Rock’s and complement Herreweghe’s for the same label? It’s more than adequately played and Pentatone’s sound is sympathetic to players and music alike, so a continuation from these quarters into Schubert’s symphonic maturity will be interesting to hear.