Leave the confusing numbering aside, this is a great recording of the "Great' symphony



Schubert: Symphony No. 8 * * * * *
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, David Zinman
RCA Red Seal
I find it very difficult to accept that a modern edition, in this case the very well respected “Neue Schubert Ausgabe”, comes up and changes the numbering of a symphony.  This is not a misprint on the cover of the CD, and you are not purchasing the “Unfinished”. The back tracks are correct and this is what you thought was the 9th Symphony. It is just that hereafter it is the 8th. And the 8th is the 7th. To me, this is little different than changing the title of an opera. Schubert’s 8th is the 8th. Anyway. Leaving that confusion (and various other trivia such as where to place this CD on your collection; possibly where the recordings of the 8th end and just when the 9th starts, but perhaps, to reinforce the new order, at the very end of the 9th…) we can concentrate on the performance. This is a new look at Schubert by all means. The orchestra responds to the conductor perfectly to achieve a Schubertian lightness that is not overwhelming in this last and different of all other symphonies. The extended introduction is well balanced and the crescendo builds up immaculately. I prefer more delicacy in the first movement’s woodwinds, but Zinman is convincingly “Beethovenian” and the finale is an epic one. The second movement is on the whole beautifully played and conducted, the trumpet being better than the oboe in the crucial sections. The vigorous finale is the  highlight of the piece and the crescendo once again shows Zinman’s powers over his orchestra. Zinman and Tonhalle Zurich are the perfect match in an almost perfect Schubert 9!

Feyzi Erçin



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