Thomas Dausgaard / Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Schubert: Symphony No. 6; Rosamunde (Incidental Music)

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Swedish conductor Thomas Dausgaard is something of a modern-day counterpart to Nikolaus Harnoncourt: a revisionist figure who inspires passionately differing responses. He and his handpicked Swedish Chamber Orchestra do not use historical instruments and techniques, but they are influenced by that movement; Dausgaard favors quick tempos, vibrato-free string sound, an emphasis on inner counterpoint, and a sound that's not so much affectless as invariably counter to type. The situation for the listener equipped with the means to sample recordings is ideal; you'll know fairly quickly whether you are attuned to Dausgaard's vision. That said, for those convinced that he has something new and intriguing to offer, this recording of Schubert's Symphony No. 6 in C major, D. 589, the so-called "Little" C major symphony, and the incidental music to Rosamunde, D. 797, may be a good place to start. The crisp, clipped gestures of the outer movements of the symphony, which somehow suggest neo-classicism, showcase Dausgaard's style and the impressive string ensemble work of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra to best advantage. Even if you were disconcerted by the Bergman-like tension of Dausgaard's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, there's little to be outraged about here, and the part-writing emerges with startling clarity. The Rosamunde music has similar virtues; Dausgaard offers a fine, precise, perhaps unemotional reading. This release is part of an "Opening Doors" series from the BIS label, which aims to present Romantic repertoire in an informal way; Dausgaard is pictured in the booklet in a casual short-sleeved top he might have bought at a super store. There's nothing informal about either the instrumental work or the fine engineering from Sweden's Orebro Concert Hall, however. Recommended to those after something new.

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