SCHUBERT: Symphonies 2 & 4 – Bamberg Symphony/ Jonathan Nott – Tudor multichannel SACD 7142, 68:04 ***** [Distr. by Naxos]:
These beautifully-judged performances of two symphonies written when Schubert was 18, playfully, seductively and happily bring the heart of the young composer alive.
Meanwhile, the elegant warmth of the Joseph Keilberth Hall where the Bamberg Symphony plays (and which is being "acoustically optimized" during its current renovation) is captured in all the warmth, depth and detail of SACD.
Since he took the Bamberg post in 2000, the young British conductor Jonathan Nott has created a remarkable recorded resume. Despite being the intellectual type, Nott seems to conceive the symphonies almost entirely in terms of physical beauty and how impressive the orchestra can sound when given its head for poetry.
In conventional stereo, the recording needs to be heard fairly loud; SACD adds a intriguing touch of richness. The slow movement of the Second Symphony is an example of how beautiful the recording is, world-class instrumental playing captured to perfection: cellos and basses with tangibly rough edges to their triplets, a clarinet with liquid tone, an oboe as erotic as only a German-school oboist can be, French horns that cry out at the end in wistful beauty. The whole disc is like this, musical heaven and a demonstration disc for audiophiles!
Some writers think that none of Schubert’s symphonies before the last, and perhaps the Unfinished, would be in the repertoire on merit alone, although they could fill a highlights disc. Hearing these performances may make them reconsider their position.
– Laurence Vittes