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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A very good symphony IMO by a relatively young Schubert. I have the Kleiber one coupled with the 8th. Since Kleiber is a legendary conductor and this is one of his only 5 symphony studio recordings I was wondering how well it holds up to others. In other words, what are your favorite performances of this symphony? Feel free to also leave your thoughts on this piece below
 

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I first heard it on Beecham's record (coupled at the time with the 5th and with a lovely Mediterranean deep blue sky dominating the cover picture of Sir Thomas if I remember rightly). That remains a special recording for me but I have found many others over the years including (from memory) Harnoncourt's with the Berlin Phil and Kertesz. There are quite a few that leave me a little cold (but no need to mention them) and some that I find "good but ...".
 

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I like the Kleiber a lot, the unconventional aspect is the fast tempo for the second movement, allegretto (but most others seem lame and staid after hearing his...). The piece seems hard to ruin, only a very heavy-handed reading might do that. I don't think the early recordings of Schubert 2-8 the young Maazel made with Berlin Philharmonic around 1960 are easily available outside of boxes but I'd recommend them as well. I am not too fond of Beecham, he comes close to "heavy" for modern tastes and this works better for me in #6 (and even #5). A modern sound "mainstream" recording, beautifully played, is Davis/Dresden (box or single w/1 and 8).
 

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I'm a big Kleiber fan and his "Unfinished" is my favourite version, but I can't enjoy his Schubert 3 because of that controversial tempo for the second movement. Abbado's been mentioned and, though he's not always my favourite conductor (certainly less so than Kleiber, ironically) I do like his way with the earlier Schubert symphonies in general.
 

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Another for Abbado
 
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Give these a try, EB.

Harnoncourt (all excellent)
Abbado
Muti
Menuhin (both)
* Immerseel
Bruggen
Suitner
Dausgaard

* the last one I listened to a while back and thoroughly enjoyed.

The Blomstedt/Staatskappelle Schubert cycle is on sale at PrestoClassical. Does anyone have any experience with that set?
Yep, had it years. Its a fine set. When did Blomstedt do much that wasn't at least good? Like his Beethoven, Nielsen, etc it's high quality and easily recommendable.
 

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I like the Kleiber performance, too, but yes, it is slightly more controversial. Amazingly, Kleiber manages to find a more authentic 'Viennese' sounding Schubert within this score, despite the obvious Haydn influence, if that makes sense? as he seems to consciously resist focusing on the more Haydn-like aspects of this symphony, but instead is able to find & bring out the elements of Schubert's own distinctive, emerging voice--even though it wasn't yet fully formed, IMO (see my comments below).

Here are some other fine Schubert 3rd recordings that I've liked over the years, if you're interested in doing some selective, comparative listening--in order to get a better sense of where exactly Kleiber's Vienna performance stands, interpretatively, within a crowded field of recommendable recordings:

I. On modern instruments (i.e., the older, more traditional interpretations),

--Wolfgang Sawallisch, Staatskapelle Dresden, Philips--an analogue recording from the 1960s--for me, this performance has its own unique musical insights, although some may find it too old fashioned & overly slow in places. (IMO, Sawallisch's time in Dresden produced some of the finest recordings of his career: the period included a very good Schubert 1-9 cycle, & one of the top cycles of Robert Schumann's 4 Symphonies, as well as Sawallisch's earliest, superb recordings of three of Schubert's best known masses).


--Herbert Blomstedt, Staatskapelle Dresden, issed by both Berlin Classics & Brilliant--an analogue recording from the 1970s. Here is the great Staatskapelle Dresden (in those days) recorded a decade or so later in slightly better analogue sound than under Sawallisch. For me, both Sawallisch & Blomstedt are more insightful Schubertians than Abbado.


--Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, from 1958-59. In my view, this is the best of the pre-stereo era recordings of Schubert's 3rd symphony--at least I believe it's late mono (but very good mono), & a stylish, strongly characterized performance:


--Otmar Suitner, Berlin Staatskapelle, Denon--Suitner's set is currently my digital cycle of choice among the 'old school' accounts (it was recorded in 1988); since I can find Sir Colin Davis's Dresden cycle to be hit & miss; though admittedly Sir Colin was perhaps at his best in Schubert's earlier, more "Haydn-esque" (or Mozartian) symphonies (& the 8th), such as the third, seeing that he was a Haydn conductor of the first rank. So you may wish to compare the Suitner & Davis digital 3rds (see my links below).

Though personally, I can't tell much, if any difference between Davis's style of conducting in Haydn & his Schubert 3rd myself--as it sounds exactly like his Haydn, style-wise, & I'm not sure that's entirely a good thing?, especially after you've heard some of the period & HIP performances... such as Immerseel's, for example (see below). Nevertheless, the Staatskpelle Dresden does play fantastically well here, as usual (in superb digital sound), & it's a very fine performance:

Suitner:

Davis:

Eugen Jochum was another great Schubert conductor, but I don't believe he ever recorded the 3rd. Nor did Pablo Casals, either. You might also want to check out Istvan Kertesz's Schubert, too, since he likewise had a good reputation in this music.

II. HIP, on modern instruments (all digital recordings),

1. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra--speaking of hit & miss conductors, here Harnoncourt dusts off the cobwebs with his extensive experience in the period movement, & turns in a riveting HIP performance of the 3rd that is extremely well played by the Concertgebouw musicians--definitely one of my top 3 or 4 picks, overall:

Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: II. Allegretto
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: III. Menuetto. Vivace - Trio
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: IV. Presto vivace

2. Antonello Manacorda, Kammerakademie Potsdam, Sony:
https://open.spotify.com/album/2NimhoIUkYOPTbTKkKMTAx

3. David Zinman, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich:
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D.200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio

III. On period instruments,

--Jos Van Immerseel, Anima Eterna Bruges, Zig-Zag territories--from a complete 1-9 cycle. What separates Immerseel's Schubert from other cycles is that he took the pains to find authentic Viennese horns from Schubert's own time, and the different orchestral balances that creates can be fascinating to hear. With the result being that you tend to notice the horns more, which is a good thing, IMO, because it makes the symphony sound a lot more like Schubert was under the spell of Beethoven, in places, rather than just Haydn. Which appropriately puts the symphony into a later context, where I think it belongs. Hence, this is one of my most essential top picks for the 3rd:

Sinfonie No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio

--Frans Bruggen, Orchestra of the 18th Century, Philips--another terrific period cycle & 3rd. I can never decide which cycle I prefer between Bruggen & Immerseel's. Both are excellent. Though Bruggen does have the more extensive experience conducting Haydn Symphonies, if that matters here (though, to be honest, I've never actually sat down and compared their 3rds).

Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D.200 - 1. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio

Bruno Weil is another period conductor who is very fine in Schubert, however, I don't believe he has recorded the 3rd.

I've not heard Marc Minkowski's Schubert.

With that said, as mentioned, I don't think Schubert had quite fully found his voice as a symphonic composer by the time of the 3rd, & wouldn't do so until his 4th & 5th Symphonies (both of which I prefer to his 3rd). To my ears, Schubert's first three symphonies tend to be more heavily under the influence of Haydn & Mozart, & at times Beethoven. Which doesn't make them bad or any less enjoyable, but I don't think of them as being fully mature Schubert yet. So, perhaps the 3rd benefits from what Kleiber does to it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I like the Kleiber performance, too, but yes, it is slightly more controversial. Amazingly, Kleiber manages to find a more authentic 'Viennese' sounding Schubert within this score, despite the obvious Haydn influence, if that makes sense? as he seems to consciously resist focusing on the more Haydn-like aspects of this symphony, but instead is able to find & bring out the elements of Schubert's own distinctive, emerging voice--even though it wasn't yet fully formed, IMO (see my comments below).

Here are some other fine Schubert 3rd recordings that I've liked over the years, if you're interested in doing some selective, comparative listening--in order to get a better sense of where exactly Kleiber's Vienna performance stands, interpretatively, within a crowded field of recommendable recordings:

I. On modern instruments (i.e., the older, more traditional interpretations),

--Wolfgang Sawallisch, Staatskapelle Dresden, Philips--an analogue recording from the 1960s--for me, this performance has its own unique musical insights, although some may find it too old fashioned & overly slow in places. (IMO, Sawallisch's time in Dresden produced some of the finest recordings of his career: the period included a very good Schubert 1-9 cycle, & one of the top cycles of Robert Schumann's 4 Symphonies, as well as Sawallisch's earliest, superb recordings of three of Schubert's best known masses).


--Herbert Blomstedt, Staatskapelle Dresden, issed by both Berlin Classics & Brilliant--an analogue recording from the 1970s. Here is the great Staatskapelle Dresden (in those days) recorded a decade or so later in slightly better analogue sound than under Sawallisch. For me, both Sawallisch & Blomstedt are more insightful Schubertians than Abbado.


--Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, from 1958-59. In my view, this is the best of the pre-stereo era recordings of Schubert's 3rd symphony--at least I believe it's late mono (but very good mono), & a stylish, strongly characterized performance:


--Otmar Suitner, Berlin Staatskapelle, Denon--Suitner's set is currently my digital cycle of choice among the 'old school' accounts (it was recorded in 1988); since I can find Sir Colin Davis's Dresden cycle to be hit & miss; though admittedly Sir Colin was perhaps at his best in Schubert's earlier, more "Haydn-esque" (or Mozartian) symphonies (& the 8th), such as the third, seeing that he was a Haydn conductor of the first rank. So you may wish to compare the Suitner & Davis digital 3rds (see my links below).

Though personally, I can't tell much, if any difference between Davis's style of conducting in Haydn & his Schubert 3rd myself--as it sounds exactly like his Haydn, style-wise, & I'm not sure that's entirely a good thing?, especially after you've heard some of the period & HIP performances... such as Immerseel's, for example (see below). Nevertheless, the Staatskpelle Dresden does play fantastically well here, as usual (in superb digital sound), & it's a very fine performance:

Suitner:

Davis:

Eugen Jochum was another great Schubert conductor, but I don't believe he ever recorded the 3rd. Nor did Pablo Casals, either. You might also want to check out Istvan Kertesz's Schubert, too, since he likewise had a good reputation in this music.

II. HIP, on modern instruments (all digital recordings),

1. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra--speaking of hit & miss conductors, here Harnoncourt dusts off the cobwebs with his extensive experience in the period movement, & turns in a riveting HIP performance of the 3rd that is extremely well played by the Concertgebouw musicians--definitely one of my top 3 or 4 picks, overall:

Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: II. Allegretto
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: III. Menuetto. Vivace - Trio
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: IV. Presto vivace

2. Antonello Manacorda, Kammerakademie Potsdam, Sony:
https://open.spotify.com/album/2NimhoIUkYOPTbTKkKMTAx

3. David Zinman, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich:
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D.200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio

III. On period instruments,

--Jos Van Immerseel, Anima Eterna Bruges, Zig-Zag territories--from a complete 1-9 cycle. What separates Immerseel's Schubert from other cycles is that he took the pains to find authentic Viennese horns from Schubert's own time, and the different orchestral balances that creates can be fascinating to hear. With the result being that you tend to notice the horns more, which is a good thing, IMO, because it makes the symphony sound a lot more like Schubert was under the spell of Beethoven, in places, rather than just Haydn. Which appropriately puts the symphony into a later context, where I think it belongs. Hence, this is one of my most essential top picks for the 3rd:

Sinfonie No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio

--Frans Bruggen, Orchestra of the 18th Century, Philips--another terrific period cycle & 3rd. I can never decide which cycle I prefer between Bruggen & Immerseel's. Both are excellent. Though Bruggen does have the more extensive experience conducting Haydn Symphonies, if that matters here (though, to be honest, I've never actually sat down and compared their 3rds).

Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D.200 - 1. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio

Bruno Weil is another period conductor who is very fine in Schubert, however, I don't believe he has recorded the 3rd.

I've not heard Marc Minkowski's Schubert.

With that said, as mentioned, I don't think Schubert had quite fully found his voice as a symphonic composer by the time of the 3rd, & wouldn't do so until his 4th & 5th Symphonies (both of which I prefer to his 3rd). To my ears, Schubert's first three symphonies tend to be more heavily under the influence of Haydn & Mozart, & at times Beethoven. Which doesn't make them bad or any less enjoyable, but I don't think of them as being fully mature Schubert yet. So, perhaps the 3rd benefits from what Kleiber does to it?
incredible post, thanks for all the recommendations and I’ll be checking all of them out. Thank you for also describing each recording which always helps for me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Give these a try, EB.

Harnoncourt (all excellent)
Abbado
Muti
Menuhin (both)
* Immerseel
Bruggen
Suitner
Dausgaard

* the last one I listened to a while back and thoroughly enjoyed.



Yep, had it years. Its a fine set. When did Blomstedt do much that wasn't at least good? Like his Beethoven, Nielsen, etc it's high quality and easily recommendable.
I heard a lot of good about muti’s cycle and I’ll check it out
 

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I heard a lot of good about muti’s cycle and I’ll check it out
I only said give those a try. They weren't all my personal recommendations, EB! Lol. Tbh, if I was in the market for a first, really well-played, well-recorded set (analogue or stereo) then Blomstedt, Harnoncourt (esp Concertgebouw) and Abbado are all much better options than Muti. I know a certain critic loves the Muti (and I did used to rate the Muti highly but then I started collecting the others and nearly all surpass Muti) . The problem is (like his Beethoven cycle) he's so 'safe'. He never takes any chances in the music so whilst nothing is 'bad' there's not much that excites either (see also Nott and that awful, stuffy Barenboim cycle). Life's too short - look elsewhere!

PS. The Suitner is a gem but it's always expensive.
 

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^ Interesting, Merl: you prefer Harnoncourt's Concertgebouw set to the Berlin one. It has a lot to recommend in it (including a stunning 4th) but is a lot darker than the Berlin set and falls down (IMO) on its 8th and 9th. I certainly agree that Muti can be bettered, even by the rather slick Abbado!
 

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My recent charity shop bargains included a most enjoyable Philips CD of Symphonies 2, 3 and 5 featuring the Orchestra of the 18th Century under Frans Brüggen.
I bought the Bruggen Schubert cycle (as a download) Presto has it in FLAC for $13, which is what I paid.

(A search brought up a second FLAC set of the same recordings (I presume) at double the price.)
 

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^ Interesting, Merl: you prefer Harnoncourt's Concertgebouw set to the Berlin one. It has a lot to recommend in it (including a stunning 4th) but is a lot darker than the Berlin set and falls down (IMO) on its 8th and 9th. I certainly agree that Muti can be bettered, even by the rather slick Abbado!
Those recommendations were based on a mix of price /availability /quality. Like you, Enthusiast, I much prefer the Berlin set but last time I looked it was stupidly expensive and you could pick the Concertgebouw cycle up really cheap (I paid an obscene £3 for it). That was some time ago and I'm probably out of step with prices so yeah, if the Berlin one is at a good price, I'd go for that but I suspect it'll still be stupidly priced. I love the Suitner but thats really overpriced. The Abbado is a bit 'slick' but it's a decent set and you can usually get it at a good price. Blomstedt has always been great value and you still see it at cheap prices. That's the problem with the Schubert cycles, they don't seem to hang around long on the catalogue. Some cycles disappeared rapidly (Viotti, Bott, Zander, Maag, Zinman, etc) and now command daft prices.
 
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