I was very disappointed in the first volume of Naxos's projected 12-volume 'Tintner Memorial Edition,' most of which will be recorded with Symphony Nova Scotia, the last group he conducted before his death in 1999. That volume contained three late Mozart symphonies and although the interpretations were fairly mainstream and even expert in conception, Tintner was let down by the provincial playing of his orchestra. I indicated in my review of that issue that I would be eager to hear subsequent releases in the series, hoping that the quality would improve. Alas, this second volume--live performances of the two pieces from 1990 and 1988 respectively--is no better than the first.
One problem, of course, is that the contents of the CD--Schubert's Unfinished Symphony (No. 8) and the Great C-Major Symphony (No. 9)--have been recorded innumerable times in the past and often extremely well. There are too many fine available recordings to enumerate them, although I would single out the incandescent performance of the C-Major Symphony by the Vienna Philharmonic under Georg Solti, whom some might think an unlikely Schubert interpreter. It is coupled with a fine Wagner 'Siegfried Idyll' on Polygram ...P>The problems here are the same as in the previous issue. There's no simpler way to say it: at the time of these recordings this orchestra was third-rate. The horns and brass in particular are often out of tune and their style is, in a word, coarse. The strings and winds, although better, have problems with articulation, tuning, phrasing and ensemble. The horrendously difficult (and tiring) violin triplets in the fourth movement of the 9th are either rushed or crushed much of the time, although fortunately they are often covered by the playing of the winds and brass. At the beginning of the Unfinished (after the monitory low string motto) the rushing sotto voce strings bode well for four measures before the wind theme enters out of tune. Oh my. And although there are some patches of lovely playing, just as in the Mozart disc, there are so many unforeseen bits of unruly playing as to make these performances unacceptable.
The first band on the CD contains four minutes of charming comments by Maestro Tintner about Schubert. This is not enough to make purchase of this disc worthwhile, even at its budget price.