Pentatone has released a recording of René Jacobs leading the B’Rock Orchestra in two of Franz Schubert’s most famous instrumental works: the Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759, “Unfinished” and the Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944, “Great.”

The “Great” Symphony, as well as the “Unfinished” are washed clean of any musical cobwebs by Jacobs in a reading given a noble and proportioned performance in which neither the fortes turn out fortissimo nor the pianos pianissimo, and in which tempo markings are given fastidious attention by the venerable Belgian maestro, who leads the Ghent-based B’Rock Orchestra, a superb ensemble that has developed its reputation as an ensemble that specializes in 18th century music playing on period instruments. Those are heard to great advantage in this recording: a superb oboe in the Andante movement of the “Great”, rock-solid string basses and cello underpinning everything, violas and second violins making the inner voices count for something.  

Jacobs has given liner notes to accompany the recording, insightfully putting forth a theory about the “Unfinished” Symphony having been purposefully left as is by Schubert, since its two movements were to be paired to Mein Traum, a poetic narration in two parts, in which Schubert wrote with candor about his fraught family life, eventually attaining a moving reunification with his estranged father. The two parts of Mein Traum are sensitively recited in the Pentatone recording by Tobias Moretti and positioned one each before the two movements of the “Unfinished.”

The conducting of René Jacobs and the flawless playing of the B’Rock Orchestra breathes new life into two of Schubert’s best-know orchestral works, making this Pentatone release a go-to one for any music fans ready to host their very own Schubertiade.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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