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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a stirring rendition of some of the finest symphonic literature
A stunning recording of some beautiful (and, I feel, very much under-rated) symphonies. The orchestra capture all that is necessary to bring these wonderful symphonies to life, with a brilliant, bright tone (neither too light nor too heavy - ideal for the repertoire) and a technically superb sense of ensemble. Expertly conducted by Harnoncourt, perfect tempos, clear and...
Published on 25 Feb 2008 by Thomas Neal

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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No way to treat a good composer
If you like your Schubert to be sanitised, desensitised and kicked into shape - and obviously some of you are quite happy with this treatment - then this is obviously the collection for you. Harnoncourt has given this treatment to every recording of his that I've heard. To my mind this is no way to treat music of this quality. Grace, wit, tenderness, charm and any genuine...
Published on 5 Feb 2012 by Mr. G. D. Grey


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a stirring rendition of some of the finest symphonic literature, 25 Feb 2008
By 
Thomas Neal (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
A stunning recording of some beautiful (and, I feel, very much under-rated) symphonies. The orchestra capture all that is necessary to bring these wonderful symphonies to life, with a brilliant, bright tone (neither too light nor too heavy - ideal for the repertoire) and a technically superb sense of ensemble. Expertly conducted by Harnoncourt, perfect tempos, clear and traditional readings whilst shedding new light on old masters. I particularly enjoyed listening to the third and eighth symphonies. Also included are two overtures in the Italian style.

The recording quality is perfectly clear without being "tinny". The CDs are presented in four sleeves inside a box with ample programme/sleeve notes - a booklet of some 62 pages outlining the history of each work, its place in Schubert's repertoire, the development of symphonic form, and of course the biographies of the performers. The only bad comment I can pass is that the works are not presented in order (they run as nos.1, 4, Italian overtures, 2, 6, 3, 5, 8, and 9), although this is a minor point and for most listeners will not be a cause for concern.

Do not be put off by the relatively low cost nor the fact that it comes from the Warner Classics label (who, I think it is fair to say, are not exactly renowned for the world's finest recordings) - this set is a joy to listen to.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and dramatic Schubert, 11 May 2012
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This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Harnoncourt's Schubert clearly benefits from his lessions as a master of authentic performing practice; it is neatly articulated, a large orchestra sounding precise, surprisingly light in touch yet full-bodied when called for. For some his style may strike as somewhat crude, but for me he underlines any suggestions of symphonic structure there might be in existence. There is certainly no want of darkness in his account of the Unfinished symphony, but it is especially the four first symphonies that gain most in his illuminative yet dramatic approach that removes all the unnecessary skin out from the textures. His account of the fifth symphony may not be the dreamiest and other-wordly available, but even this happiest of all symphonies is given a new alternative dimension in his accentuated reading.

For me his cycle offers the ideal approach for this music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the Schubert symphonies, bar No 7, 6 Mar 2013
By 
John HOLLAS (UK) - See all my reviews
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Harnoncourt and the Concertgebouw in all the Schubert symphonies, except the 7th as another reviewer points out, and a couple of overtures: what's not to like very much? These are Warner Classics recordings and well up to their usual standard. Harnoncpourt's style is not liked by all, but it is by me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harnoncourt's look at the complete Schubert symphonies isn't just great, it's monumental, 2 Mar 2012
By 
Andrew R. Barnard (Leola, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
While universally recognized as an incomparable melodist, some of Schubert's music has been criticized for lacking structure and showing signs of immaturity. Few of his works meet with this criticism more than his early symphonies. Some liner notes for CD's containing these symphonies state the case for these symphonies is very weak, a product of an ambitious youngster who lacked the ability to write a real symphony. No one questions his lieder abilities or the glory of the "Unfinished" or "Great" C Major, but the early symphonies seem to create plenty of doubters.

That's where Nikolaus Harnoncourt comes to the rescue. A dour looking gentleman whose extensive knowledge of scores is rivaled by precious few, he is determined to make a case for these early symphonies. If one focuses exclusively on the youthfulness in these symphonies, they're bound to end up sounding amateurish. Our maestro recognizes this and attempts to save these symphonies by showing a strong mastery. As unbelievable as it sounds, he's arguing that the genius of Beethoven is hidden in these scores.

Harnoncourt's attempt isn't only unbelievable, it's incredibly risky. Why? Well, the risk is that while trying to show forth the structural skill in the symphonies, Harnoncourt will lose sight of Schubert's indispensible lyric qualities, and his rollicking youthfulness. In fact, for most conductors, such an undertaking spells doom from moment one. But Harnoncourt couldn't care less. He can work miracles and knows it full well. Don't ask me how he does it, but he is able to pull shocking details from the Concertgebouw and make the symphonies sound powerful without sounding overworked. It actually sounds spontaneous, but there's no way one could produce such sophisticated sounds without serious planning and effort. The point is the when it's all done, there's nothing missing at all, only Schubert sounds majestic and gloriously lyrical all at once. It's this ability to make music sound free and joyous while digging way below the surface that sets him apart as a conductor. Not only does Harnoncourt's scheme work, but I have I hard time imagining that anyone could sound either more fun or more powerful than him. And that's truly remarkable.

It's unfair to paint the 8th and 9th symphonies as ones that need special pleading because they don't. Yet Harnoncourt doesn't seem less at home here than in the less instantly appealing earlier works. He manages to find pensive dreaminess in the "Unfinished" and a feeling of nostalgia the makes the oldest memories seem fresh, all without suffering vitality. I think the "Unfinished" is one of Schubert's darkest works and Harnoncourt seems to feel the same way. But Schubert's towering "Great" C Major is a different story. It is full of passion but doesn't sound at all bleak, only bright and sunny. Harnoncourt manages to uncover all these elements, making the music soar with song. Yet this is Schubert's greatest symphony structurally speaking as well; needless to say, Harnoncourt know that full well and doesn't compromise on its greatness in the least. He still finds time to dig deep; if you sit down in a quiet room with good earphones and take a listen, your breath will come in short gasps as you witness his phenomenal ability to make all the orchestral parts bristle with such life and detail. As with the early symphonies, this is so good that it gives me the chills. I dare not hope I'll ever hear Schubert that has a fraction of the impact this set does.

I don't need to tell you to get this set. Music making this monumental is cause for great anticipation.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lacks charm., 22 July 2008
By 
enthusiast "enthusiast" (sussex, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
I'm a "Harnoncourt fan". And yes, OK, these are good performances and will afford hours of pleasure. But put them alongside some of the other options for the Schubert symphonies and they do not seem so smiling as they do. The Colin Davis set is cheaper and much better (more radical and far more successful), for example, and even the sometimes a little dull Bohm set does at least manage to rest in a sense of tradition. Harnoncourt attempts something more and is always stimulating but his success here is tempered by a rather dour mood in the early symphonies. The Unfinished is excellent and the 9th is well worth having as an alternative.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearty Honours for Harnoncourt, 13 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Nicholas Harnoncourt deserves every credit for directing a superb cycle of the Schubert symphonies. From the joie-de-vivre of the youthful early symphonies to the sublime profundity of the "Unfinished" and "Great C Major" he manages to precisely capture the exactly appropriate approach ranging from the quasi-Classicism of the earlier works to the pre-Romantic heavenly lengths of the "Great". With a fine, clear recording to boot, this exemplary set is a box to treasure. Wonderful stuff!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un Harnoncourt sempre sorprendente, 29 July 2012
This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Harnoncourt ci lascia una interpretazione sorprendentemente fresca e innovativa delle sinfonie di Schubert, così come aveva fatto con Beethoven. Ottima la prova dell'orchestra. Registrazione eccellente.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No way to treat a good composer, 5 Feb 2012
This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
If you like your Schubert to be sanitised, desensitised and kicked into shape - and obviously some of you are quite happy with this treatment - then this is obviously the collection for you. Harnoncourt has given this treatment to every recording of his that I've heard. To my mind this is no way to treat music of this quality. Grace, wit, tenderness, charm and any genuine humane
understanding of the music is chucked out of the window and what is left is a brutal and soulless skeletised performance which
almost made me lose the will to live.
For a really fine performance which has wit and delicacy as well as some beautiful orchestral playing, I would strongly recommend István Kertész and the Vienna Philharmonic - originally recorded in the 60' & 70s but still fresh and excellently engineered - to say nothing of the superb direction of the conductor.
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5 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Copy Protected Disc, 9 Jan 2010
This review is from: Schubert: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Be aware that this disc is not an audio CD and will not play on PCs. I'm sure that it is a very nice recording, if only I could listen to it! Very disappointed I would have sent it back if it was not a Christmas present. Instead its going straight to the bin.
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite complete...., 15 Feb 2011
Why is this called the "Complete" Schubert Symphonies when there is NO Symphony No 7. A bit of an oversight there I think.
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