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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 25 February 2008
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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on 11 May 2012
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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on 18 December 2014
Absolutely stunning! Mr Harnoncourt's Schubert is as good as his Mozart....and it just doesn't get better than that. So much replay value. I believe this oozes character and charm. Finding it very hard to stop listening to these symphonies over and over! The genius of the conductor shines through....heavily promoting the genius of the composer.

I did however find that the discs only played on my cd player and NOT on my computer. However as this set comes with a free mp3 download of all 4 discs, they are already on the computer. Still, nothing's perfect.
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on 6 March 2013
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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on 13 August 2011
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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on 2 March 2012
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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on 29 July 2012
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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on 5 February 2012
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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on 9 October 2015
It would be very nice if people would get there facts sorted out. In almost all box sets of schuberts complete synphonies there are only 8 works. The so called 7th was never completed in any movment. This days in the newst sets no 8 is now no 7 and no 9 is no 8. Only marriners box set gives completed versions of no 7 and no 10 and other abandoned sketches.
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on 9 January 2010
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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