Famously extolled by Robert Schumann for its "heavenly length," Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great" is regarded as one of the finest symphonies ever composed and viewed as a significant influence on Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner and other late Romantic composers of expansive Romantic symphonies. Due to its importance, the Ninth was often played in the 20th century with slow, dignified tempos and a sense of weightiness that suggested excessive reverence, yet also made the music much harder to play. Indeed, musicians found the repetitive rhythms difficult to sustain at slower speeds, but perfectly manageable at a faster clip. Fortunately, the symphony has received more up-tempo performances since the millennium, and ensembles like the Scottish Chamber Orchestra deliver the music with the speed and energy intended by Schubert's use of propulsive ostinati and other insistent rhythmic patterns. Maxim Emelyanychev leads the SCO in this 2019 release on Linn, and his expressive control and clear vision of the work's trajectory keep the Ninth from plodding along like a Classical museum piece. To the contrary, this performance is quite vigorous and exciting, and will likely be a revelation to listeners schooled in the traditional style. Linn contributes sterling sound quality to this recording, which separates the orchestral sections with the utmost clarity and puts every detail in sharp focus.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 9 in C major 'The Great', D.944|