Pablo Heras-Casado / Freiburger Barockorchester

Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

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Franz Schubert's earlier symphonies are often given perfunctory performances that fail to capture the pionts at which the young composer was thinking about the larger dimensions his orchestral music would soon take on. The Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200, and Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D. 417 ("Tragic"), were both composed during Schubert's teenage years. This recording by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado virtually overturns existing conceptions of both works. The orchestra uses period instruments, and it is very light on vibrato, but that is not the real news here; the performances would still have been startling on modern instruments. Heras-Casado crafts fast, ferocious interpretations that get at a certain nervous, questing mood in this music. Sample blistering speed in the Italian dance finale of the Symphony No. 3, or the odd, edgy shapes of the thematic material of both of the C minor symphony's outer movements. In the slow movements Heras-Casado and the Freiburg players are the very essence of lightness and grace; this is a brisk, extremely energetic performance, but not a dry one. If there's one complaint, it's in the rather over-live sound from the Auditorio Manuel de Falla in Granada; the engineering team gets the percussion in the C minor symphony to sound like cannon shots, but the extraneous noise level is high. Still, this is a Schubert symphony recording to make anyone sit up and take notice.

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