Nikolaus Harnoncourt once said, “Schubert is the composer who is closest to my heart” – and in this edition, Harnoncourt and the Berliner Philharmoniker present a brilliant and multifaceted portrait of the composer. It of course includes Schubert’s symphonies – from the too little-known early works to the “Unfinished” and the “Great” C major Symphony. With Schubert’s final two masses, central works of Romantic sacred music are also represented, plus there is a first-class discovery with the opera Alfonso und Estrella.
Harnoncourt’s case for the work is so convincing not least because of the superb cast of singers which includes Kurt Streit, Dorothea Röschmann and Christian Gerhaher. But what lies at the musical centre of this edition is the collaboration of orchestra and conductor. This Schubert is colourful and dramatic – and represents a unique synthesis in which the famous sound of the Berliner Philharmoniker is as evident as Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s familiarity with the transparency and sound speech of historical performance practice.
The performances, recorded between 2003 and 2006, are contained on eight CDs, plus there is a Blu-ray disc that presents all of the recordings in uncompressed 24-bit audio. The high quality of the recordings is matched by the standard of the product features, with an extensive booklet, a hardback cover, and a video interview especially produced for this edition in which Nikolaus Harnoncourt talks about his special connection to Schubert.
CDs 1 - 8
Complete Symphonies, Masses Nos. 5 & 6, Alfonso und Estrella
All recordings in Pure Audio 24-bit / 48 kHz [2.0 PCM Stereo • 5.0 DTS-HD MA 24-bit]
Nikolaus Harnoncourt in conversation (Bonus video) [Full HD 16:9, Region Code: ABC (worldwide)]
Digital Concert Hall
7- Day Ticket for the Berliner Philharmoniker’s video streaming service
For high resolution audio files of the entire album (24 bit / 48 kHz)
“As far as the symphonies are concerned, Harnoncourt maintains and even intensifies his quest for textual purity already established in his cycle withthe Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra...Yet the results are far removed from some kind of rarefied academic exercise, and the performances are given an extra degree of adrenaline through being recorded live.” BBC Music Magazine * * * * *
“Something of a maverick himself, Harnoncourt has the genius to meet the composer on his chosen ground and deliver the work…with the surest of touches…Alfonso und Estrella deserves a separate release and with it the further discussion and comparison that that would bring. Suffice it to say…that Harnoncourt's direction, aided by the Berliners' own peerless playing, is a joy from start to finish” Gramophone
Symphony No. 1 in D major, D82
Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, D125
Symphony No. 3 in D major, D200
Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D417 'Tragic'
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D485
Symphony No. 6 in C major, D589
Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D759 'Unfinished'
Symphony No. 9 in C major, D944 'The Great'
Mass No. 5 in A flat major, D678
Mass No. 6 in E flat major, D950
Alfonso und Estrella, D732
Christian Elsner (tenor), Bernarda Fink (mezzo), Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass-baritone), Luba Orgonášová (soprano), Birgit Remmert (contralto), Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Jochen Schmeckenbecher (bass-baritone), Kurt Streit (tenor)