Students at the Imperial and Royal Seminary where the young Schubert found himself having outgrown his first music teachers were required to immerse themselves in a life of music and composition. The student orchestra of which he was a part were required to present an overture and a symphony each evening. By 1813 he’d already presented his first Symphony and immediately started composing his second which he finished on March 14th, 1815.
The drama of the Symphony’s opening is soon overtaken by a Largo that is in turn followed by an Allegro vivace that reminds me strongly of an operatic overture. There’s a feel throughout – particularly in the transitional passages, of a student working through a formal structural exercise it’s rescued from mere academicism by the fact that the student was Schubert whose lyricism and melodic gifts were never far the forefront of his work. The movement ends bracingly after a deftly executed recapitulation.
The slow movement that follows is based on a charming Haydenesque Andante nor is this only such example of the youthful Schubert paying homage to ‘Papa Haydn’ for in the third movement we find a very traditional Menuet and Trio whose main subject somewhat surprisingly is in the distinctly untraditional key of C minor. The Presto vivace finale is very daring with its jaunty ‘dactyl’ based rhythm and a somewhat dark recapitulation before breaking through to the Symphony’s sunny conclusion. It’s played below by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel. Enjoy :-).
Video Source: Schubert Symphony No 2 B flat major Maazel Bavarian RSO – YouTube Published on 22 Jan 2013 by HaydnHouse04Mar1887