Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert: 'The Finished "Unfinished"'

Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert: 'The Finished "Unfinished"'

Article excerpt


'The Finished "Unfinished"'

Symphony No 8, D759 (reconstr Venzago)

Basel Chamber Orchestra / Mario Venzago

Sony Classical (F) 88985 43138-2 (43' * DDD)

Recorded live at the Casino Basel Musiksaal, March 4, 2016

Mario Venzago explains that nobody knows why Schubert left the Unfinished unfinished. In fact, in the booklet, he persuasively expounds his theory that the work was finished but, pressed for time when an urgent ballet commission came his way, the composer requested the return of the finale to be pressed into use; that most of the Scherzo was sent as well and was subsequently lost is unfortunate, although the manuscript of the familiar torso ends with the first page of the third movement in fair copy. Venzago has reconstructed, from piano sketches, the Scherzo with two Trios and rescued the finale from the Rosamunde ballet music to reconstitute the four-movement symphony at least in its dimensions, if not fully in detail.

Thus the balance of the work is altered. Venzago deplores the tradition of performing it as two slow movements and accordingly takes the opening Allegro moderato faster than is often the case--only slightly slower, in fact, than he would take the first movement of the Eroica, with one rather than three beats in the bar. …

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