Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Schubert Symphony No. 9 ("The Great") - Tate

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

The untimely passing of Sir Jeffrey Tate threw a wrench on my programming plan for this month. This week’s edition of Vinyl’s Revenge planned to begin a series of posts dedicated to an old 5-LP set of Mozart Piano Concertos – I intend to take that project on when I return from summer hiatus. Stay tuned!

It’s unfortunate that we too often pigeon-hole artists (and especially conductors) as “specialists” of a particular portion of the repertoire. Though it is sometimes unfair to do so, we cannot deny that Tate was indeed well-known for his recordings of the great Classical-era composers, especially his English Chamber Orchestra collaborations of Mozart and Haydn. Later this year, I plan to dedicate a Friday Blog and Podcast to Tate’s excellent renditions of Haydn’s London Symphonies.

In a podcast I published this past Friday, I shared music from Classical-era composers, and in my commentary discussed how we view the Classical period as covering essentially the 18th Century, noting that there is some “spillage” into the early 19th. As well, I noted that some composers we associate with the Classical period, most notably Beethoven and Schubert, can be thought of as bona fide precursors of the Romantic era.

Both Beethoven’s and Schubert’s Ninth symphonies are indicative of how forward-looking these two geniuses were; these are mammoth works, double the length (and breadth) of what their teachers and contemporaries dared to put to paper. In fact, for many years, Schubert’s Ninth was deemed “too difficult” and “unplayable”. Ten years after Schubert's death, and under the able direction of Felix Mendelssohn and his Leipzig orchestra, the “Great C Major” symphony was finally premiered. To this day, it is considered a major piece of the symphonic repertoire – whether we view it as late Classical or early Romantic.

I cherish Tate’s performance (which is part of my analog collection along with an old VOX cassette of the same symphony by Thomas Schippers and the Cincinnati Symphony ) and find that still today it stacks up well against some of the versions I have in my digital collection (Muti/Vienna Philharmonic and Abbado/Chamber Orchestra of Europe). His vision for the work is clear, and its main quality is its sense of forward propulsion that resonates so much with me.

Conductors generally live long lives and Tate’s passing in his early 70s in some ways means he “died young” - in spite of the ailments that plagued him throughout his life. I hope you will enjoy this fine performance!

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828)
Symphony no. 9 in C major, D. 944 (‘the Great’)
Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden
Sir Jeffrey Tate, conducting
EMI / Angel 38336 (Vinyl DDA)
Recorded at Studio Lukaskirche, Dresden, Released 1986.


Internet Archive URL – https://archive.org/details/JeffreyTateStaatskapelleDresden1986SchubertSymphonyNo.9
(Thanks to On The Top of Damavand for ever)

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