Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished); Symphony No. 9 (Great)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished); Symphony No. 9 (Great)
PERFORMER: Dresden Staatskapelle/Giuseppe Sinopoli
CATALOGUE NO: 437 689-2 DDD
Sinopoli’s new recording of the Unfinished Symphony makes far more sense than his funereal 1983 version with the Philharmonia. It’s actually over four minutes quicker, and he still includes the first movement repeat. I’m not sure about the huge slowing up for the lyrical second subject, but otherwise this reading is alert and dramatic. Sinopoli finds just the right speed for the flowing Andante con moto, and makes the most of its passionate outbursts.

Advertisement

I’m less convinced by the Ninth Symphony: it’s full of vitality, but Sinopoli’s habit of bringing out unimportant details is usually interesting only on the first hearing. Occasionally his touch is rather precious, as in the glorious Trio of the third movement, and he is a bit stingy with repeats. On the other hand, the Dresden strings are on top form, and there’s plenty of excitement in the dashing finale (incidentally, Sinopoli sensibly treats the ambiguous marking on the last chord as an accent, not a diminuendo).

Advertisement

Orchestral balance is splendid throughout the disc, and the booklet proudly proclaims (in distinctly user-unfriendly language) DG’s new technology, ‘4D Audio Recording’. Verdict: not proven. To my ears the sound is rather synthetic and lacking in depth, though the dynamic range is impressive. Stephen Maddock