WORKS: Symphony No. 5 in B flat; Symphony No. 6 in C
PERFORMER: Helsingborg SO/Okko Kamu
CATALOGUE NO: CLCCD 3907 DDD
Schubert’s Fifth Symphony might well have been chosen for this disc, marking the launch of the new Calle Classics label, for its mood of confident optimism. Under its chief conductor Okko Kamu, the Helsingborg SO has a freshness and vitality appropriate to the music’s character. The recording, made in the orchestra’s own concert hall, is bright, with strong bass balance to produce a robustness which heightens the music’s impact.
Where the Fifth Symphony is the embodiment of the best qualities of the young Schubert, the Sixth shows him on the threshold between youthful genius and full maturity, a development of style which is effectively expressed by Kamu and his orchestra. The slow introduction is finely poised, and incisive phrasing in the exuberant Allegro enhances the music’s dramatic effect. The slow movement is gracefully elegant, and the Scherzo (evidence of Beethoven’s influence) is characterised by a strong rhythmic vitality.
Unlike Harnoncourt (Teldec) and Abbado (DG), whose versions are based on Schubert’s original manuscripts, Kamu relies on Brahms’s editions. However, if textual authenticity does not concern you, the appealing directness of the present performances will make an attractive alternative. Nicholas Rast