Professor Newbould’s introduction to this Symphony is far better than anything I could write:
Schubert waited only five months before beginning his Fifth Symphony , in September 1816. Is this quick renewal of appetite a sign that he was bursting to say something radically different from what he had so recently said in his Fourth? To be sure, among the first six s ymphonies there i s no sharper contrast between immediate successors than between these two. Schubert follows his first minor-key symphony with an irrepressible celebration of the major. Shedding the two extra horns required for the Tragic , he dismisses also the trumpets and drums, the clarinets and the second flute, leaving a trim early-Classical ensemble. For this ensemble he writes music so eighteen-century in scale and design that one could believe that it would not have been much different if Beethoven, who had already publ ished eight nineteenth-century symphonies, had never lived.
Yet, for all Schubert’s wholehearted acceptance of a concept of symphony-writing rendered outmoded by his fellow-resident in Vienna, his Symphony No. 5 in B flat has a genuine vitality of utterance that has made it the most popular of all his earlier symphonies with twentieth-century audiences. The reason is that he speaks his adopted lagnuage with absolute naturalness and conviction; and he enriches it with idioms of his own, by which for the time being require no fundamental transformation of the language itself. In one sense, the Fifth Symphony could have been composed a good quarter of a century earlier. In another, it could no t have been, because an essential part of its appeal is a warm affection for the parlance of musical works he grew up with an affection emanating from Schubert himself and coloured by his personality . What one cannot say is that it is a wholly typical Schubert symphony. It is his only ‘chamber symphony’, if that is the term to denote the normal produce of the years 1750–90. To know the Fifth alone is to know a work of spontaneous charm, characterised by a near-Mozartian formal clarity and melodic purity and by a special compactness and consistency . To know Schubert’s symphonies, or even his early symphonies, is another matter. Conclusions drawn from the Fifth are not necessarily applicable to the entire oeuvre.1
It’s performed below by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel. Enjoy :-)
Video Source: Schubert Symphony No 5 B flat major Bavarian RSO Maazel – YouTube Published on 22 Jan 2013 by HaydnHouse04Mar1887
- Brian , Newbould. Schubert and the Symphony A New Perspective. Toccata Press, 1992. pp. 110 – 111. Print. <http://www.toccatapress.com/book/schubert-symphony-newbould.html>. ↩