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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mackerras magic in Schubert, once again, 2 July 2010
Colin Fortune (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Schubert: Symphony No 9 (The Philharmonia Orchestra / Charles Mackerras) (Audio CD)
Sir Charles's interpretation of Schubert's Great C major symphony is one of the most satisfying in the recorded repertoire. It is fresh and exhillerating and moving and profound. All the speeds are on the fast side for anybody who has heard a more late romantic approach like that of Furtwaengler or Klemperer and they are all the better for that.

This is a wonderful symphony but it needs the controlling hand of a commited and great conductor to make it work. The main reason for this is the length of the work and the repetition of rhythmical cells, especially in the last two movements. Not only does Mackerras possess all of the qualities necessary but he also goes on to include every single possible repeat (as far as I can tell) including the second repeat in the Finale. His Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment recording Schubert: Symphonies Nos 5, 8 & 9 /OAE · Mackerras also does this but he is a bit more sparing of them with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra recoding Schubert: Symphonies Nos 8 & 9. The performannce is excellent but there are some drawbacks.

Firstly, the Philharmonia play wonderfully, but they are a bit more rounded in sound than the Orchestra Of the Age of the Enlightenment. The sound recoding does not do them any favours: I find it a little dull and the trumpets are rather backward at important moments in the Scherzo.

Secondly, although Amazon offer this disc at bargain price, it is more expensive than the OAE/Virgin recording (see above), which also offers Symphonies 5 and 8 (the Unfinished) in very good performances. The sound is also preferable (and note that the pitch of the tuning of the orchestra is a semitone below that of this Philharmonia recording, offsetting any possible shrillness in the "original instrument" band). This is why I have only awarded four stars. This is very good but Mackerras's earlier recording with the OAE on a Virgin superbargain twofer is better recorded, cheaper, and has couplings. Buy that one instead of this Signum issue if you have the choice, but if you do not, this Philharmonia recording is worth considering.
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