Douglas Boyd

Schubert: Rosamunde

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Schubert devoted considerable energy to writing music for the stage, including several operas, but his incidental music for the 1823 play Rosamunde is the only dramatic music that is performed with any regularity, and when it is performed, it is usually only a handful of orchestral selections. The complete music for the play lasts nearly an hour and includes chorus and contralto soloist. Because of its nature as incidental music, its movements are episodic and it wasn't constructed with the unifying contours and balance of a symphony or even a traditional suite of excerpts. Taken on its own terms, as a series of musical moments, it's a wonderfully lovely and magical work, blossoming with felicitous lyrical invention. Although Schubert composed it in haste, you would never know it from its wealth of memorable, disarmingly charming melodies. This performance by Douglas Boyd, leading Musikkollegium Winterthur and Schweizer Kammerchor, has much to recommend it. The naturalness of MDG's pristine sound is in itself enough to make the SACD stand out, and the playing and singing are also gorgeous. The orchestra performs with unforced elegance. The strings have silvery sound that is also full and warm, and the winds are beautifully blended and precise. Boyd's reading is fleet but unhurried, and his nuanced pacing is supple and fluid. The recording is altogether lovely and highly recommended for fans of the composer's and of early Romantic orchestral music.

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