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Digital Recording



Franz Schubert
Symphony No.8 b minor "The Unfinished"
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Symphony No.3 a minor Op. 56 "Scottish"

The New Symphony Orchestra Sofia
Conductor - Petko Dimitrov

A live-recording from the National Palace of Culture in Sofia

ISBN 3-930643-81-2 · 2-track-stereo · DDD · 64 min.
Copyright by K&K Verlagsanstalt anno 2001



The New Symphony Orchestra Sofia
was founded in 1991 by the music critic Julia Hristova, its current president. The orchestra was established as an alternative organisation to the state subsidized cultural institutions in Bulgaria. It recruits young musicians offering them professional field, where sharing their skills, new chances and opportunities to play music and create a flowering of more kinds of music in more people’s lives. Since 1997 the orchestra is directed by Rossen Milanov.

Petko Dimitrov
the conductor of this concert, was born in 1973 in the town of Plodiv. He entered the Plodiv Musical Academy in 1991 and the Sofia Musical Academy in 1993. He studied with prof. Vassil Kazandjiev and prof. Ivan Bakalov.
In August 1998 Petko Dimitrov participated in the Vitosha 1998 Summer Conducting Academy of the New Symphony Orchestra, held under the leadership of Maestro Rossen Milanov. In May 1998 Mr. Dimitrov debuted with a chamber ensemble of the New Symphony Orchestra conducting pieces by the British composers Sir Michael Tippett and Henry Purcell. His debut with the full orchestra was in December '98 with Brahms - Symphony N°1. He has in his repertoire also: Variations on a theme of Bach for string orchestra by Trifon Silianovsky, Symphony #8, h moll, (Unfinished) by Franz Schubert, Symphony #3, a moll, op. 56 (Scottish) by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Adagio for strings by Samuel Barbar and Symphony #2 by Beethoven. Petko Dimitrov is an assistant conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra since 1998.



The Gramophone Magazine (Mai 2003):
Young players excel in compelling live performances of two favourite symphonies

The members of the New Symphony Orchestra, drawn from the Sofia Radio Orchestra, are a comparatively young ensemble founded in 1971. The writer of the insert-note suggests that their musical style is “sentimental, due to the members´ experience recording film music”. Sorry, but there is no trace of sentimentality in either performance. Instead, here is a superb example of the intense concentration that can come with live musicmaking from eager young players, well rehearsed, in front of a receptive audience.

In the Scottish Symphony, the character of the playing combines an effervescing vitality and a natural Slavonic warmth, particularly from the full-toned strings. Petko Dimitrov shapes Mendelssohn’s lovely lyrical opening with an appealing simplicity, and in the first climax of the vivace of the exposition his surge of animation has the players all but scampering in their exhilaration. The one snag is that the important exposition repeat is, alas, omitted. The scherzo sparkles, the slow movement is beautifully shaped yet has a sombre underlay which prevents any suggestion of blandness, and after the dancing vivacissimo the close of the finale is expansive, almost Klemperer-like in its spacious grandeur. Overall, a performance of much character.

Schubert’s Unfinished is even finer, the epitome of Romanticism, the quiet opening mysterious, darkly evocative, yet with incisive drama soon to offset the lyricism. Here the exposition repeat is played, and used to build an onward propulsion which is very compelling. Dimitrov´s modest change of pace for the exquisitely gentle opening of the second movement is perfectly judged, and the arrival of the secondary theme is beautifully prepared by the violins. The woodwind contributions, first the clarinet (2´06´´) and the naturally following, equally delicate oboe (2´36´´) are almost like a question and answer, before the drama of the bold trombone-dominated tutti (2´56´´) which is arresting without being coarse.

But it is the gently ruminative quality of the playing - of wind and strings alike - that makes this performance so memorable. The interplay between apparent serenity and the music's bolder progress is like a contrast between twilight apprehension and the daylight assertion of life's irrepressible advance, with a haunting sense of resignation conveyed in the movement’s guileless closing bars. The concert hall recording was made in simple 'two-track stereo' and the effect is real, slightly distanced, but tangible. Most rewarding.

Ivan March



Franz Schubert
was born on January 31st 1797 in Vienna and he died thirty-one years old on November 19th 1828. He left approximately thousand compositions - a lifework which appears even more colossal considering the shortness of his life. This life was not only short, but also lacking in "great" events in comparison to other important composers. Schubert never played a particular part in public life, he made just a few short journeys and lived basically a inconspicuous life.

But the posterity could not accept the unspectacular biography of the creator of such marvelous music and so the composer was exalted to an unappreciated romantic genius with particular „gentle" traits some decades after his death. Since the middle of the 19th century, a long line of „biographic" novellas and novels as well as innumerable sculptural portrayals, among them about 700 postcards, caused a false popularity of Schubert. The concrete facts about the course of his life handed down scantily were „completed" by doubtful „memories" and anecdotes.
The „biographic" Singspiel „Das Dreimäderlhaus", performed for the first time in 1916 in Vienna, contributed to the diffusion of an utterly distorted picture of Schubert: This work feigns authenticity by including original compositions by Schubert. Off the handed down clichés, our Schubert documentary is limited to a short summary of the secured facts about his life, a short survey of his works and an outline of the Austrian Schubert memorial places.

Franz Schubert left in all seven complete symphonies and six symphony fragments. To the last ones belongs the mysterious torso, which became as „the Unfinished" more famous than any other of his finished works in this genre.
Just some years ago, the musicology still disagreed on the question about the numbering and the chronological order of the last Schubert symphonies.

The last years (1823-1828) of Schubert's life were outwardly determined by his syphilitic disease and frequent moves. Despite all difficulties, he developed an astonishing creative power, after overcoming the creative crisis of 1819/20.
At the end of February 1823, Schubert mentioned his disease for the first time in a letter to a friend. During the summer, he was working on his new opera „Fierabras" and made with Vogl a journey of several weeks to Linz and Steyr. In autumn, he composed the drama music for Rosamunde. Now he tried for the first time to get medical treatment and stayed in hospital for a prolonged period. He composed there the lieder cycle „Die schöne Müllerin". After his stay in hospital, Schubert lived with Josef Huber near the Stubentor bastion. In 1824, the Esterházy family invited him once again to come to Zseliz and Schubert, supposed to be recovered, spent the summer months there. Back to Vienna, he lived in the house of his father till February 1825. Then he moved to the surroundings of the Karlskirche in the neighborhood of his friend Moritz von Schwind. He lived there till October 1826.

In May 1825, he started off on his longest journey with Vogl. It lasted just under six months and took the friends across Upper Austria and Salzburg. During a longer stay in Badgastein, where Vogl hoped for cure of gout, Schubert had probably also taken a cure. In Badgatein he composed several lieder and was working on his great C major symphony, that he began in Gmunden. At the beginning of October, he returned to Vienna via Linz. In 1826, he had to suffer once more a professional defeat: His application for the vacant post of Viennese vice-court conductor was rejected. His efforts toward finding an editor for his works failed also for the moment.

Nevertheless he was already rather well-known as composer in Vienna. The newspapers published again and again advertisements of publishers and his works were often performed in great public concerts. And when Ludwig van Beethoven died in March 1827, Schubert had the honor of taking part in the obsequies as one of the 36 torchbearers beside Grillparzer and Raimund.

In February 1827, Schubert moved with his friend Schober as subtenants into two rooms and a „music chamber" in the house „Zum blauen Igel", Tuchlauben 14. He lived there till a few weeks before he died. He spent the September 1827 in Graz as guest of the lawyer Pachler and his wife Marie, a pianist. Back to Vienna, he was working on the second part of his lieder cycle „Winterreise", that he had begun already in February.

On January 28th 1828, a „great" Schubertiad with prominent guests was performed with Joseph von Spaun at the „Klepperställe" in Vienna's Teinfaltstraße: It was to be the last meeting like this. Encouraged by the success, Schubert set about organizing - on his friend's Eduard von Bauernfeld (1802-1892) advice - a so-called „private concert" with exclusively own works. Exactly one year after Beethoven's death, on March 26th 1828, this concert was actually given at the hall of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (society of music-lovers) in the Tuchlauben. It was a great artistic and financial success for Schubert - even though it was totally outshone by the first Viennese concert of the famous violinist Niccolo Paganini. Not a Viennese newspaper took notice of that unique event in history of music.

In September 1828, Schubert went to live with his brother Ferdinand in the Viennese suburb Neu-Wieden. He was in bad health - probably he had contracted a typhoid infection. After an excursion to Eisenstadt in October, his state went from bad to worse. Nevertheless he enrolled for studies of the fugue with Simon Sechter (1788-1867), the famous theory teacher and composer, and began also with composition exercises. But finally he got just one single lesson.

From November 11th on, Schubert was confined to bed. He died on November 19th. On November 21st, he was buried at the cemetery of Währing near Beethoven's tomb and many people took part in the obsequies. When the cemetery of Währing was closed in 1888, Schubert's mortal remains were transferred to the Wiener Zentralfriedhof (Viennese central cemetery) and interred in a tomb of honor.





Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
was born in Hamburg (Germany), 3 February 1809. He died in Leipzig (Germany), 4 November 1847.
Of a distinguished intellectual, artistic and banking family in Berlin, he grew up in a privileged environment (the family converted from Judaism to Christianity in 1816, taking the additional 'Bartholdy'). He studied the piano with Ludwig Berger and theory and composition with Zelter, producing his first piece in 1820; thereafter, a profusion of sonatas, concertos, string symphonies, piano quartets and Singspiels revealed his increasing mastery of counterpoint and form. Besides family travels and eminent visitors to his parents' salon (Humboldt, Hegel, Klingemann, A.B. Marx, Devrient), early influences included the poetry of Goethe (whom he knew from 1821) and the Schlegel translations of Shakespeare; these are traceable in his best music of the period, including the exuberant String Octet op.20 and the vivid, poetic overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream op.21. His gifts as a conductor also showed themselves early in 1829 he directed a pioneering performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the Berlin Singakademie, promoting the modern cultivation of Bach's music.

A period of travel and concert-giving introduced Mendelssohn to England, Scotland (1829) and Italy (1830-31); after return visits to Paris (1831) and London (1832, 1833) he took up a conducting post at Düsseldorf (1833-5), concentrating on Handel's oratorios. Among the chief products of this time were The Hebrides (first performed in London, 1832), the g Minor Piano Concerto, Die erste Walpurgisnacht, the Italian Symphony (1833, London) and St. Paul (1836, Düsseldorf). But as a conductor and music organizer his most significant achievement was in Leipzig (1835-47), where to great acclaim he conducted the Gewandhaus Orchestra, championing both historical and modern works Bach, Beethoven, Weber, Schumann, Berlioz), and founded and directed the Leipzig Conservatory (1843).

Composing mostly in the summer holidays, he produced Ruy Blas overture, a revised version of the Hymn of Praise, the Scottish Symphony, the now famous Violin Concerto op.64 and the fine Piano Trio in c Minor (1845). Meanwhile, he was intermittently (and less happily) employed by the king as a composer and choirmaster in Berlin, where he wrote highly successful incidental music, notably for A Midsummer Night's Dream (1843). Much sought after as a festival organizer, he was associated especially with the Lower Rhine and Birmingham music festivals; he paid ten visits to England, the last two (1840-7) to conduct Elijah in Birmingham and London. Always a warm friend and valued colleague, he was devoted to his family; his death at the age of 38, after a series of strokes, was mourned internationally.

With its emphasis on clarity and adherence to classical ideals, Mendelssohn's music shows alike the influences of Bach (fugal technique), Handel (rhythms, harmonic progressions), Mozart (dramatic characterization, forms, textures) and Beethoven (instrumental technique), though from 1825 he developed a characteristic style of his own, often underpinned by a literary, artistic historical, geographical or emotional connection; indeed it was chiefly in his skilful use of extra-musical stimuli that he was a Romantic. His early and prodigious operatic gifts, clearly reliant on Mozart, failed to develop (despite his long search for suitable subjects), but his penchant for the dramatic found expression in the oratorios as well as in Ruy Blas overture, his Antigone incidental music and above all the enduring Midsummer Night's Dream music, in which themes from the overture are cleverly adapted as motifs in the incidental music. The oratorios, among the most popular works of their kind, draw inspiration from Bach and Handel and content from the composer's personal experience, St. Paul being an allegory of Mendelssohn's own family history and Elijah of his years of dissension in Berlin. Among his other vocal works, the highly dramatic Die erste Walpurgisnacht op.60 (on Goethe's poem greeting springtime) and the Leipzig psalm settings deserve special mention; the choral songs and lieder are uneven, reflecting their wide variety of social functions.

After an apprenticeship of string symphony writing in a classical mould, Mendelssohn found inspiration in art, nature and history for his orchestral music. The energy, clarity and tunefulness of the Italian have made it his most popular symphony, although the elegiac Scottish represents a newer, more purposeful achievement. In his best overtures, essentially one-movement symphonic poems, the sea appears as a recurring image, from Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and The Hebrides to The Lovely Melusine. Less dependent on programmatic elements and at the same time formally innovatory, the concertos, notably that for violin, and the chamber music, especially some of the string quartets, the Octet and the two late piano trios, beautifully reconcile classical principles with personal feeling; these are among his most striking compositions. Of the solo instrumental works, the partly lyric, partly virtuoso Lieder ohne Worte for piano (from 1829) are elegantly written and often touching.