Michael Halász: Schubert Symphonies 1, 2, 3, 4

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Franz Schubert
Work: Symphony No.1 in D-major, D.82 (1813)
English: Oil painting of Franz Schubert Deutsc...
English: Oil painting of Franz Schubert Deutsch: Gemälde von Franz Schubert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mov.I: Adagio - Allegro vivace 00:00
Mov.II: Andante 11:47
Mov.III: Menuetto: Allegretto 19:17
Mov.IV: Allegro vivace 23:30

Orchestra: Failoni Orchestra
Conductor: Michael Halász

Wikipedia: The Symphony No. 1 in D Major, D. 82, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1813, when he was just 16 years old. Despite his youth, No. 1 is an impressive piece of orchestral music for both its time and size. The first movement opens with a stately Adagio introduction, reminiscent of the Haydn's 104 in its format. The short Adagio sets off a lively Allegro vivace.

The symphony is scored for 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in D, 2 trumpets in D, timpani and strings. The orchestration, which is balanced between strings and winds, lends itself to small chamber orchestras, as well as larger ensembles. The trumpets are scored particularly high, as in many of Schubert's early works. Trumpet players will find, in general, the tessitura sitting between a concert D to Concert A for most of the 1st and 4th movements. In the 4th movement, Schubert pushes them up to a high D, in a repeated fashion. Some careful planning is needed to balance the multiple doublings between horns and trumpets.

Work: Symphony No.2 in B-flat major, D.125 (1814 - 1815)

Mov.I: Largo - Allegro vivace 00:00
Mov.II: Andante 14:07
Mov.III: Menuett: Allegro vivace 22:20
Mov.IV: Presto vivace 25:32

Orchestra: Failoni Orchestra
Conductor: Michael Halász

Wikipedia: The Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, D. 125, is a symphony by Franz Schubert composed between 1814 and 1815.
In the opening movement, the initial theme of the Allegro vivace is based on the corresponding first theme of Ludwig van Beethoven's overture to The Creatures of Prometheus.

The second movement is a theme with five variations in E flat major. Although there is some variation in the melody, the primary focus of the variations are on instrumentation and tone color. The first variation features violins and winds. The second variation passes the theme between the low strings and the woodwinds. The third variation is again violins and winds. The fourth variation is in C minor and features some acceleration with the use triplet-sixteenth notes. The fifth variation maintains the triplet-sixteenths, but they move into the background with the melody returning close to its original form as a kind of recapitulation. A coda concludes the movement.

The minuet is in C minor and mainly scored for the tutti and fortissimo. The contrasting Trio in E flat major is more thinly scored winds, violins and pizzicato bass. The melody of the trio is actually a variation of the theme used in the second movement forming a melodic and harmonic (E-flat/C minor) link is made between the inner two movements.

The finale is a galop in fast 2/4 time.

Work: Symphony No.3 in D-major, D.200 (1815)

Mov.I: Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio 00:00
Mov.II: Allegretto 09:35
Mov.III: Menuetto: Vivace 13:54
Mov.IV: Presto: Vivace 18:04

Orchestra: Failoni Orchestra
Conductor: Michael Halász

Wikipedia: Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200, was written between 24 May and 19 July 1815, a few months after his eighteenth birthday.

The Allegro con brio, which follows a broad introduction in a form which reminds us of the French Overture in two parts, the first slow and dramatic, the second more lyrical, is remarkable for its charm and the interplay of solo clarinet with syncopated strings, which developed pp from within the bounds of the style of chamber music to the larger sphere of the symphonic form. This is an extremely dramatic movement in sonata form. It owes much, as Michael Trapp points out in the liner notes of Günter Wand's recording, to the influence of Rossini, whose music was quite popular at the time, particularly evident in the overture-like structure.

A delightful Allegretto in ternary form follows, full of grace and humor.

Then comes a high-spirited Minuet, which, with its accented up-beats, suggests a scherzo and a popular flavor due to this low and popular gesture, and is contrasted by a graceful Ländler-like trio.

The concluding Presto in tarantella rhythm is remarkable for its bold harmonic progressions and for its wealth of dynamic contrast. This movement is in sonata form with a looser conception.

Work: Symphony No.4 in C-minor "the tragic", D.417 (1816)

Mov.I: Adagio molto - Allegro vivace 00:00
Vienna, Austria: Franz Schubert's birthplace, ...
Vienna, Austria: Franz Schubert's birthplace, Nussdorfer Strasse 57 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mov.II: Andante 09:57
Mov.III: Menuetto: Allegro vivace 17:57
Mov.IV: Allegro 21:15

Orchestra: Failoni Orchestra
Conductor: Michael Halász

Wikipedia: The Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D. 417, commonly called the Tragic (German: Tragische), was composed by Franz Schubert in April 1816. It was completed one year after the Third Symphony, when Schubert was 19 years old. However, the work was premiered only on November 19, 1849, in Leipzig, more than two decades after Schubert's death.

The title Tragic is Schubert's own. It was added to the autograph manuscript some time after the work was completed. It is not known exactly why he added the title, but the work is one of only two symphonies (the Unfinished Symphony is the other) which Schubert wrote in a minor key.

The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B-flat, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in A, C and E-flat, 2 trumpets in C and E-flat, timpani and strings.

Notably, with the exception of the Trio of the third movement, the movements are in exactly the same keys as their counterparts in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony - C minor, A flat major, C minor, and C major.

The slow introduction is modeled after Haydn's The Representation of Chaos overture to The Creation oratorio. The opening theme of the Allegro of the first movement derives from the opening theme of Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 4 in the same key.

The slow movement is in A-B-A-B-A form which would be a favorite form for most of Schubert's remaining symphonic slow movements (the Unfinished being the only exception). The themes are the B section are not new. They are developed from the Allegro theme of the first movement and the themes of A section. The second appearance of B, the third return of A and the beginning of the coda have a sixteenth-note ostinato accompaniment added to help bring cohesiveness to the sections. This was a device that Beethoven had previously used in the slow movements of his Op. 18 No. 1 quartet and his Pathetique sonata.