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Schubert: Symphony No 9 'The Great' /Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment · Mackerras

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4 out of 5 stars 2 reviews from Amazon.com us-flag |

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Product Description

VIR 790708 FC; VIRGIN - Italia; Classica Orchestrale

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid, lyrical, though not exactly profound reading 3 May 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Who says period-instruments bands have to play at frantic speeds or sound edgy and hard? The way the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment play and the way Virgin record them, they sound positively mellow.

This 1987 recording has been around now for quite some time, but I was reminded of it after listening again to Josef Krips's classic Decca recording from almost thirty years earlier. The Krips reading of the Schubert Ninth uses a full modern orchestra, while Sir Charles Mackerras uses a slightly smaller period-instruments group, so the two performances aren't really comparable. They're more complementary.

Moreover, Mackerras not only uses a smaller body of performers (though still substantial at about sixty performers) playing on authentic period instruments, he also observes all the repeats and mainly follows the autograph manuscript score. As Mackerras notes in the disc's accompanying booklet, Schubert marks the tempo in the very opening of the work differently than most conductors play it, so with Mackerras the Andante introduction flows more easily into the following Allegro. Mackerras follows this up by observing that Schubert wanted most of the movements paced a bit slower than we usually hear them, resulting in a greater continuity throughout the entire piece than we normally hear. It's true that under Mackerras there is also a certain degree of sameness about the symphony; yet, if anything, it serves to bring out the work's lyrical qualities more than ever, and it helps to dispel the notion that Schubert was making something of a mishmash with the symphony.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nothing earth-shattering...... 10 Jun. 2012
By Timothy Mikolay - Published on Amazon.com
As Schubert 9's go, this a fine presentation. The woodwinds shine during the trio of the third movement, the strings are brash and vivacious and the period brass section handles the score expertly. So why only 4 stars?

What's missing is momentum. This lack of inertia is a bit of an oddity for Mackerras. I'm used to his energy-driven perf's of Janacek and Dvorak but can't find this quality here. The disc sounds like a high quality reading of the 9th and not an effort to stand out amongst the gazillions of discs of this war-horse (sorry, horse lovers). The Virgin sound is first class if not a tad favorable on the bright side.

Mackerras recording with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on TELARC fares better in that there's a drive to the piece that keeps me listening, keeps me focused.

If you like your Schubert "Great" in cruise control, this disc is for you.
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