Maxim Emelyanychev & SCO - Schubert: Symphony No. 9 - The Arts Desk

There’s a telling photo of Maxim Emelyanychev on page 11 of Linn's booklet, the conductor beaming at the camera, the body language suggesting he's having a hard time actually sitting still. This performance of Schubert 9 is impulsive and upbeat, an irrepressibly positive statement. Yes, this is a Ninth Symphony (or eighth, depending on your point of view), but it's still very much a young composer's work. It's possible to make this music sound like Bruckner, but Emelyanychev’s light touch feels entirely right, the symphony's epic size sweetened with plenty of smiles. Natural horns give the opening theme added colour, and the movement's fast main section springs into life. Emelyanychev revels in the shadowy music just before the recapitulation, making the reprise all the more jubilant. Narrow bore trombones have plenty of heft. Every detail tells, without stalling the momentum.

Oboist Robin Williams is peerless in the slow movement’s main theme. The scherzo is swift but never breathless, its echt-Viennese trio swinging just enough. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s upper strings are heroic in the finale, the brassy closing pages riotous. You'll want to cheer. Linn's engineering is well up to scratch. Start your 2020 with a bang. Buy this.

The Arts Desk
04 January 2020