Schubert – Symphonies nos 5 & 8 “Unfinished”

Another superb recording of a superb performance by Haitink. It might be because I’m so much used to them, but I think Haitink’s interpretations are on the dot. I have seen him live just once, and whenever he was conductor, something magic was happening in the orchestra. Music just came together in his hands.

The first symphony on this record is the Unfinished 8th. Schubert wrote it for the Graz Music Society, because they gave him an honorary diploma in 1823. He sent Hüttenbrenner, a leading member of that society the score for an unfinished symphony. It consisted of the first two parts. He never finished it, and nobody knows why.

It took Hüttenbrenner almost until his death to share it with anybody. He didn’t even tell the Society it was meant for. In 1865 he finally showed them to a conductor, and he premiered it in the same year. Scholars have since then been able to combine it with some notes found in Schubert’s possession at the time of his death.

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