Listeners may want to put on a safety helmet before slipping this disc into the CD player because these performances by Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra are without a doubt and beyond all argument the most exciting accounts of Schubert's B minor and C major symphonies ever recorded. Even listeners who already know these works in the great recordings by Furtwängler, Toscanini, Knappertsbusch, and Mengelberg may be surprised and amazed by these recordings. As great as the classic recordings were, those conductors took it for granted that Schubert was a master of symphonic form, not a composer experimenting with the form, and a mature man of ripe wisdom, not a young man in a hurry to establish himself.
Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra reveal Schubert as a different composer. The orchestra's Schubert is smart, swift, and athletic, with tight attacks, lean textures, fleet tempos, brawny rhythms, and undeniable virtuosity, but the real agent of change is Dausgaard. As in his Schumann recordings, Dausgaard's approach is fresh and direct, with none of the deadweight of tradition that can make the works come across as warhorses getting in another saunter around the track. Here, they seem like world premieres. There is a sense of urgency to these performances that's more than startling, it's staggering. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra's vital playing and Dausgaard's inspired interpretation heighten the B minor's lyricism and deepen its tragedy and expand the C major's sense of epic adventure so that these works appear nearly wholly reborn. Recorded in preternaturally vivid super audio sound, this CD should be heard by anyone interested in classical music.