Heinz Holliger conducts Schubert 4 & 6 [Sony Classical]

Heinz Holliger conducts Schubert 4 & 6 [Sony Classical]
4 of 5 stars

Overture in the Italian Style, D590
Symphony No.6 in C, D589
Symphony No.4 in C-minor, D417 (Tragic)

Kammerorcheter Basel
Heinz Holliger

Recorded 18-20 October 2018 at Riehen, Landgasthof, Switzerland

Reviewed by: Antony Hodgson

Reviewed: October 2020
CD No: SONY CLASSICAL 19075814412
Duration: 73 minutes

It is always a pleasure to encounter Heinz Holliger’s refreshing approach to Schubert’s Symphonies.  He performs these works in an unaffected way, respecting the tempo markings and within them shaping the music expressively

With one surprising exception this fidelity to the score is also true of Holliger’s perceptive readings of Symphonies 4 and 6.  The performances are supported by excellent recorded sound, superbly balanced.

The slow introduction to No.4 is made very dramatic; the listener is kept tensely anticipating the tragic nature of the Allegro – here moderate in pace and serious in demeanour.  After taking a thoughtful view of the tender Andante featuring elegant playing from horns, Holliger gives a rustic account of the Scherzo.  The pause before the Trio is a surprise but the section enters with rhythmic exactness and does not lose impetus.  The Finale is one of the rare examples of a sonata-form movement where omission of the exposition repeat would not matter.  Holliger is always generous with repeats and this is no exception but even at his fast tempo this Allegro does sound lengthy.

Symphony No.6 has many of the attributes of a grand work of the periodThe themes are perhaps light-hearted but Holliger treats the music seriously until the Finale is reached.  This is more like a divertimento than the ending of a Symphony with brief, strongly contrasted tunes following one another.  Unfortunately, in his otherwise illuminating booklet note Roman Brotbeck is seriously misleading when he says that is “notable for its numerous changes of tempo”. The first published score (Breitkopf & Härtel 1884) heads it Allegro moderato and nowhere is any tempo change indicated. In the event, Holliger uncharacteristically swerves the tempo about in all directions – it’s all rather fun and quite enjoyable; Schubert purists will hate it.The D-major Overture in the Italian Style makes a cheerful prelude. There is sprightly playing here and the tunes are jolly until, near the close, there is a surprise to today’s ears when we hear a melody straight out of the Rosamunde Overture.

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