Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Listening to Schubert with the proper spirit of reverence and appreciation

Franz Schubert: Symphonies no. 2 & 5

What a bright and long-burning genius was Franz Schubert, partially obscured though he was by the Great Genius Beethoven. Schubert had an intensity that belied his lack of personal charisma when placed against the larger-than-life 19th century masters. His songs and his piano sonatas are obviously at the very pinnacle of greatness, but when it comes to Schubert's orchestral music it's the earlier, slighter symphonies I love to listen to (not counting the Unfinished Symphony, of course, which is both great and loveable). This is something I expect is fairly common; there's something about Schubert and his music that inspires this kind of love. I was enjoying listening to this clear, bright, thoughtful recording from Antwerp while reading Deborah Solomon's fabulous biography of the artist Joseph Cornell, Utopia Parkway, and saw that Cornell shared this Schubert love:
Cornell's latest fascination was with Franz Schubert, one of many composers who glowed with a special incandescence in his imagination.... Cornell's records meant so much to him that sometimes he couldn't even bring himself to open them. After acquiring a set of recordings of Schubert's Trio in E Flat, Cornell noted in his diary: 'I await the proper moment to unfold its loveliness and enjoy it in the proper spirit of reverence and appreciation it deserves.'
I highly recommend this disc from Maestro Herreweghe, and further recommend that when you buy it you go ahead and open it, or load the MP3s on your computer or phone or whatever, and listen. You'll love it.

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