Review by: Victor Carr Jr
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 8
Gunter Wand’s Schubert Ninth, here making a welcome return to the catalog as part of RCA’s new mid-price reissue series, is one of the few modern versions of this storied warhorse that commands your attention. All the hallmarks of great Schubert conducting are here: a strong and consistently maintained rhythmic impetus, immaculate balances that expose the work’s beguiling woodwind writing, and an overall buoyant energy allied to an unfettered lyricism. Rarely has the first movement’s tricky transition from andante to allegro been handled so convincingly, and Wand’s balance of light and dark moods perfectly catches the slow movement’s clever juxtaposition of pathos and delight. The Berlin Philharmonic does itself proud in this live performance, with pointed, ringing brass throughout, gorgeous winds in the scherzo, and stunningly rapid-fire string playing in the finale–which is one of the most rousing on disc, as the included applause attests. The recording appears to have been closely miked, and although the resulting sound is notably high-impact, it’s also just dry enough to slightly inhibit the performance’s power and brilliance. Nevertheless, this is a great Ninth, and a must-have disc. [5/14/2004]
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: This one, Munch (RCA), Bernstein (DG)
FRANZ SCHUBERT - Symphony No. 9 "The Great"