What new can be offered these days in the ways of Schubert symphonies? Here we have his three middle symphonies, all wonderful, all recorded a zillion times. I came to the third symphony in the 60s through Beecham and his glorious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The music danced as light as a feather; by contrast, Dausgaard’s approach is punchy and masculine. This heavier approach is particularly appropriate to the Fourth, known as ‘The Tragic’ (Schubert’s Sturm und Drang symphony).
The Fifth is noted for its lighter sound as it doesn’t use trumpets, tympani or even clarinets. The catalogue is knee deep in performances of this elegant work, usually regarded as a child of Mozart, whom Schubert worshipped. Dausgaard takes a genial approach compared tohiswaywith3and4.Iran comparisons with Mackerras (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment), which I found curiously heavy handed. He gets better results with the ACO on the Omega label. Beecham and Bruno Walter’s recordings from the 60s are even heavier; but then both were using full old fashioned bands. The splendid Swedish orchestra has been directed for 17 of its 19 years by Dausgaard. It employs contemporary instruments, but draws down on period performance practice. The recorded sound is healthy – not too much reverb which assists rhythmic clarity.