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Schubert- Symphony No. 9; Five German Dances

While Ivan Fischer's performance with the Budapest Festival Orchestra of Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great," cannot be categorized as a period performance in the strictest sense, there are several points where it seems sufficiently influenced by the authenticist movement to resemble one.

Chiefly in the distinctive and cleanly separated sonorities of the woodwinds and brass, and partly in matters of tempo and rhythm, this sounds quite a bit like a historically informed performance. Even though Fischer makes no claim to special research and doesn’t employ original instruments, it’s clear he and his musicians have absorbed the salient points of Classical and early Romantic performance styles, and they execute a version that most reasonable listeners can feel does justice to Schubert’s intentions and time period. The crisp and clear sounds of the winds are arresting, and the clarity of their lines and textures make the music transparent and ideally balanced with the strings. The strings don’t play with anything like the commonly accepted period tone, with its attendant sheen, but that is a minor point, considering they still play with minimal vibrato and yet present a warm, blended sound. In terms of tempo, the music is generally brisk and propulsive, and Fischer’s conducting is incisive, so the rhythms follow suit and push off the beat with considerable energy. The closing selections, the delightful Five German Dances, were not required as filler after such a satisfying masterpiece, but the music is enjoyable and provides added value for those who feel the symphony by itself is far too short for a CD. The sound of this SACD is excellent, with first-rate DSD reproduction, credible multichannel depth, and pleasant resonance.

Blair Sanderson, allmusic