Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4
Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Harmonia Mundi, 2013
For Pablo Heras-Casado’s first recording for Harmonia Mundi, two of Franz Schubert’s early symphonies (No. 3 in D major and No. 4 in C minor) have been selected. They were regarded for a long time as scholastics, minor works of a composer who had still to forge his own musical path and that had still to find his own “voice” (the New Grove describes them as «apprentice works, full of ingratiating touches and, less frequently, genuine originality»), but this disparaging opinion of the first musical attempts of the young Schubert clashes with the dazzling performances given by several conductors in the latest years. The quality of these performances, in fact, has make possible to rediscover, if not “originality”, some lively music which was highly receptive of external models as Beethoven, in the case of the Symphony no. 4.
The Symphony no. 3
Heras-Casado’s rendition of the two symphonies with the accomplished Freiburger Barockorchester belongs exactly to those recordings that, instead of offering routine conductions of little known works, gives prominence to their brilliance and their lustrous colours. The Symphony no. 3, the more joyous of the two, is magisterially performed as Heras-Casado finds the right colours and dynamics to achieve a lively performance of the youthful work – where “youthful” is more a synonym of “love for life” rather than inexperience: the first movement reveals a kind of impetus typical of the youth, the second is characterized by amusing and delicate irony, the third is vivacious and the fourth can be considered one of the most enthusiastic and genuine explosions of joy ever heard in music.
The Symphony no. 4
The Symphony no. 4 has been – rather inappropriately – nicknamed “The Tragic” and Heras-Casado characterizes it with an élan of a different kind, which is more mature and restrained in comparison to that of the Third, but equally engaging for what concerns the flow of music and the use of the orchestral palette. The “tragic” mood of this symphony is carried out by Heras-Casado in a way that, even though it lingers on thoughtful passages (as in the case of the second movement, where its reflective spirit echoes distant suggestions), continually moves forward. The stir that fills the entire work is always vibrant and vigorous.
This recording presents a really vivid rendition of Schubert’s early symphonies. Heras-Casado attributes to each of them a peculiar character which stresses their features very well and that does justice to two works that have been neglected for too long. It seems that the moment to rediscover them has finally arrived.