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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67000
Recording details: February 1997
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: September 1997
Total duration: 16 minutes 49 seconds

Symphony in D major, D708a
composer
1820/1; fragments in piano score; Scherzo incomplete
arranger
orchestration; completion of Scherzo

[Allegro vivace]  [3'06]
[Presto]  [3'08]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the winter of 1820/1 Schubert set to work on a symphony, choosing D major, a key which he had learned from Beethoven’s second to be advantageous for orchestral writing. This time he sketched parts of all four movements, getting far enough with the third for it to be readily completed by another hand. There is no slow introduction, but Schubert seems to compensate for its absence by building contrasts into the early stages of the first movement. A coiled-spring of a motif generates the energy to induce a quick, sonorous climax. An awesome hush follows, leading to an energetic rebuild towards another climax and in turn a lurch towards A flat major for a second subject in that singular key. ‘Singular’? This is in fact the only example in the entire Classical period in which a second subject is cast in the key a tritone distant from the home key. But Schubert has hardly presented the second limb of the tune before he quickly swerves to the orthodox key, there to dilate on the theme more expansively than even he usually would—before, once more, coming to a halt at the end of the exposition.

Schubert gives a particularly sketchy idea of his intentions in the slow movement, but before he breaks off close to what would probably have been a halfway point he takes care to notate fully a passage of rare lyrical counterpoint, its upper strands amiably interweaving and then changing places. The Scherzo begins with a motif which, once the symphony had been abandoned, would be recycled as the starting-point of the Scherzo of the ‘Great’ C major Symphony. There are other similarities with the later Scherzo, but this one is more concerned with bustling counterpoint than its heavyweight successor.

Both the Scherzo and Trio are sketched right up to the final varied reprise, which Schubert could have composed easily enough without the need for sketching.

The finale is a moto perpetuo (or almost perpetuo) in which a solo flute leads. As in the last movement of D615, Schubert reaches the first reprise of its opening theme before laying down his pen. Perhaps he lost heart when he reflected that, when he came to score the sketch, the climactic chords of remote A flat major and equally remote C sharp which he had just written could not be strengthened by the brass instruments and drums they deserve, since the imperfections of those instruments in Schubert’s day would not allow them to play any notes at all in those chords. But a more general reason for abandonment may well be that Schubert recognized that he was at a developmental stage and any work put aside for even a short time became a casualty of his hunger for ever new composing experiences which might take him towards his goal.

from notes by Brian Newbould © 1997

Other albums featuring this work
'The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 2' (HYP20)
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 2
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