This is Schubert’s longest symphony, and its music has been described as heavenly. The symphony is typically and specifically Schubertian in its form, occupying a position in the history of music between Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler – right on the threshold which separates classicism from romanticism. It is hard to say if Josef Krips ever succeeded in making a finer recording. The presentation has a direct, unforced spontaneity, confirming that Krips had an intuitive understanding of Schubert’s compositions. The orchestra plays with dynamic vivacity without ever sounding aggressive. The interpretation of the two final movements is delightful in its airy exhilaration: swaying in a dance-like rhythm, tripping lightly through virtually every key there is, and in between, in the Scherzo, the gravity of the trio. The Finale, again, is merry in character with triplets rushing past, and the listener revels in every single repetition as the magnificence of this work reveals itself. The inspired orchestra does full justice to the music and renders an interpretation in the Viennese tradition at its very best. This recording simply cannot be surpassed in terms of performance or sound quality – it is a must not only for the lover of Schubert’s music.
Recording: May 1958 at Kingsway Hall in London by Kenneth E. Wilkinson
Production: Erik Smith