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SCHUBERT, F.: Overtures (Complete), Vol. 1 (Prague Sinfonia, C. Benda)

Composer(s):Schubert, Franz
Artist(s) Benda, Christian, Conductor • Prague Sinfonia
Period(s) Romantic
Genre Classical Music
Category Orchestral
Catalogue 8.570328
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps

Revered for his incomparable Lieder , Franz Schubert was also an avid opera-goer who yearned, largely in vain, for success as a composer of stage works. This disc features several of his less familiar early overtures, from Der Spiegelritter and Der Teufel als Hydraulicus (circa 1811/2) and his first completed opera, the Medieval fantasy Des Teufels Lustschloß (1813/4), to the Overture in B flat (1816). It is hard to believe that such accomplished and effective music was the work of a teenager.


Review By Robert R. Reilly,,January 2009

I am a huge fan of Franz Schubert's music, so I was delighted by the new Naxos release of Vol. 1 of his complete overtures . Contained therein are nine spirited works from his teenage years—concert and opera overtures that are mostly unfamiliar, but are great fun. I do not mean this as a condescending remark; Schubert's preternatural genius was already on display in his teen years. The overtures are performed with wonderful verve by the Prague Sinfonia, under Christian Benda.

Review By Giv Cornfield,The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics,January 2009

An excellent project is launched with this disc. In keeping with Naxos' policy of exploring the byways of music, nine delightful little overtures come to light. Unlike similarly titled 18th century works—which were generally extensive suites of dance movement—these little gems represent the precocious young Schubert attempting to break into the showbiz of his time. Whether he would have succeeded as a composer of operas is in doubt, if we consider the small number (two or three) that he managed to get published. But the overtures are another matter: they brim over with catchy melodies, and the structure and orchestration are really excellent. Christian Benda, scion of the illustrious Bohemian family of musicians, digs into these scores with gusto and the


Review By David Denton, Naxos,January 2009

Introduced to opera while in his early teenage years, Franz Schubert yearned to become a successful theatre composer, but many attempts had brought little success at his early death. He was fourteen when he began work on Der Spiegelritter (The Looking-Glass Knight), but gave up while still in the first act, though the overture (track 2) still remains. His next foray came with an overture to Albrecht’s comedy Der Teufel als Hydraulicus (The Devil as Engineer), soon followed by two concert overtures in D, both dramatic and remarkable from one so young, the second he later revised and found a place for it in his repertoire. His first completed opera, or more accurately a Songspiel, Des Teufels Lustschlob (The Devil’s Pleasure Castle) was probably written with his teacher, Salieri, as the guiding hand, and showed immense potential. The year 1815 saw Der vierjahrige Posten, Claudine von Villa Bella and Die Freunde von Salamanka, the disc ending with the Overture in B flat, its reason for composition now a matter of conjecture. If the two early overtures showed promise, the expertise that followed was extraordinary, and the lack of concert performances is strange. In mood he was still mainly in his dramatic era, the comedy of Der vierjahrige Posten, the one track that brings a welcome feel of jollity. The disc forms the first volume of Schubert’s complete overtures played by the Prague Sinfonia, a new name that takes over from the famous Prague Chamber Orchestra. It remains a compact unit of estimable quality but still lightweight in terms of strings. The result is a nicely transparent texture, Benda’s vibrant and well-paced performances deserving a greater sense of orchestral depth from the engineers.



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