September 07, 2021

Schubert Symphonies 4 & 5 Praised in The Guardian

“René Jacobs and the B’Rock Orchestra fizz in youthful Schubert”  

René Jacobs and B’Rock Orchestra received a wonderful review in The Guardian for Schubert: Symphonies 4 & 5. Reviewed by Fiona Maddocks.  

Schubert wrote his first five symphonies in his teens, youthful works without the poignancy and majesty of the Unfinished (No 8) or the “Great” C Major (No 9) yet hinting at what might come. René Jacobs and his B’Rock Orchestra have reached Symphonies 4 & 5 in their cycle for Pentatone (following pairings of 1 & 6, and 2 & 3), and they maximise the potential of these works with raw, restless performances.  This Ghent-based baroque orchestra digs into the urgency of No 4 “The Tragic”, notable for its slow, pensive introduction and the use of four horns instead of the customary two. It’s also the first he wrote in a minor key, choosing C minor, with all its musical associations, of the underworld (Gluck), of chaos (Haydn), of “dark powers” (Weber), as Jacobs’s detailed liner notes discuss.  The shorter, sunnier No 5 in B flat, completed six months later, is for smaller forces: two horns, with no clarinets, trumpets or timpani. The B’Rock players, lovers of speed, carry its lightness with charm and a glint of steel: exhilarating performances all round.

Photo by Mirjam Devriendt

Read the full review in The Guardian