Maxim Emelyanychev begins his discography as Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with this bracing account of the ‘Great C-major’, Schubert’s Ninth (or, in German-speaking countries, Eighth) Symphony.
Captured in Caird Hall Dundee, in excellent sound, the SCO comes across as fuller, if naturally so, than its personnel numbers (nine first violins, Stephanie Gonley leading, down to four double basses) might suggest (violins are antiphonal, by the way, basses to the left).
True to ‘period’ manners, Emelyanychev joins the brigade of conductors who give us an express-train ride through this music; you can’t help feeling though that the scenery is a blur, even in first-class, which the SCO’s playing certainly is, a close rapport apparent between musicians and conductor, woodwinds, brass and timpani liberated.
It’s whether you like Emelyanychev’s speedy approach (fifty-four minutes, all repeats observed, Colin Davis in Dresden, Jonathan Nott in Bamberg just as generous and in more ways), the antithesis to such as Böhm, Furtwängler and Giulini (you get the picture) – me, I am sticking with Boult at the Proms on BBC Legends, Gielen live in London on Hänssler, and Slatkin in St Louis for RCA – but not so different to other ‘authentic’ wallahs that have previously and literally set the pace, of which Heinz Holliger is the man to extend the highest appreciation towards, his added few minutes an advantage.
Meanwhile, if your destination is Dundee then your welcome is a Scherzo & Trio that is the fleetest of all, remarkably poised and detailed for all that, and a rapid-fire Finale, the polar opposite to the gemütlich traversals from Barbirolli and Knappertsbusch. The downside is a ‘slow’ movement that is relentless, con moto with a vengeance.
However, let me stress that Emelyanychev and the SCO are spotless in achieving what they set out to do, and that Philip Hobbs’s engineering is state of the art. Linn CKD 619.