Review: Schubert's Fifth

JOHN BUTTON
Last updated 09:41 04/03/2014

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Five by Five - Concert No 2; New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marc Taddei Schubert: Rosamunde Overture, Symphony No 5 in B flat major.
Michael Fowler Centre
Reviewed by John Button

This was the second of the five concerts of famous "Fifth Symphonies", this time featuring Schubert.

Schubert's Fifth might be the least dramatic of the five being presented in this series, but it is, stylistically, the trickiest of the lot.

The Fifth Symphony was composed in 1816 when Schubert was 19, around the time that Beethoven's Seventh and Eighth symphonies were seeing the light of day.

But Schubert was in a Mozart phase at the time, and it is therefore no surprise that his orchestration of this symphony is lighter than all his others.

But, for all its superficial indebtedness to Mozart, the fingerprints and the form are pure Schubert.

Many conductors overdrive parts of the work, while others prettify it.

Both approaches are wrong and Marc Taddei struck a near ideal balance between drama and spaciousness.

Nothing was pushed too hard, so all the melodic elements, and the delicious woodwind detail, were allowed to tell, yet there was no lack of punch when needed.

The same approach allowed the Rosamunde Overture to make its points and the orchestra, as they had in the first concert, played with superb precision and poise.

The hall was comfortably full, and the applause at concert's end showed just how appreciated this lunchtime series is.

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- The Dominion Post

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