Elsewhere on this site I review the first release from The Cleveland Orchestra (search “A New Century”). This second album (distinctively packaged as a ten-inch LP and with full annotation, although it’s tricky to remove the disc from its compartment and return it), once again conducted by music director Franz Welser-Möst, includes a freshly-minted account of Schubert’s ‘Great’ C-major Symphony (No.9) that is honed in its preparation and playing, buoyant of rhythm and melodically expressive, and in which details and inner parts are pristine.
Tempos are moderate but never drag – Welser-Möst aligns speeds across the whole and he is persuasively less con moto in the Andante second movement than many an interpreter, to advantage. All repeats are observed, save, thankfully, in the Finale; anything to avoid those perfunctory lead-back bars! What can detract though is Welser-Möst’s tendency to emphasise occasional notes, not so much accented as highlighted: a distraction, especially during the Scherzo & Trio in which timpani could be clearer. Cavils aside, though, this is a palate-cleansing view of D944 that invites further listening.
The remainder of the disc is Ernst Krenek’s Statisch und Ekstatisch (Opus 214, 1973). There’s no doubting the quality of the performance, and while I am not one to ever shirk a musical challenge, I found this tedious and limited over its twenty minutes – easy to hear the Static, less so the Ecstatic – as Krenek (1900-91) follows strict Schoenbergian principles of organisation to increasingly dry results. (Only my opinion!)
The recorded sound (from Severance Hall during March this year, just before lockdown struck) is superb, as is post-production: applause is removed, so too between-movement hubbub. TCO0002 [SACD].