- Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200
- Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485
- Symphony No. 8 in B minor ("Unfinished"), D. 759
Schubert's symphonies fall into two groups: the early works, in which he closely emulated Classical models; and a second phase, which is marked by the increased lyricism and expansiveness of his last two masterpieces. This disc presents examples of both periods, and the interpretations of two conductors and their orchestras effectively illustrate the differences. Heinrich Schiff leads the Northern Sinfonia in satisfying performances of the robust "Symphony No. 3" and the elegant "Symphony No. 5," and these works are rendered appropriately, both in terms of their Classical orientation and according to their own contrasting characters. The orchestra delivers the former symphony with rustic rambunctiousness and extroverted energy, while its treatment of the latter is refined and more intimate, taking a cue from the work's reduced orchestration and frequent allusions to Mozart and Haydn. Vernon Handley conducts the Ulster Orchestra in the "Symphony No. 8, Unfinished," and this symphony reveals Schubert's mature approach to the form, which admits long, lieder-like themes and extended developments that emphasize melodic continuity over motivic interplay. Handley and his ensemble are expressive and dramatic, and their warm Romantic tone is gratifying in both movements. Chandos provides excellent sound in all three performances, and the smooth balancing between works makes volume adjustments unnecessary.