by Stephanie Manning
Perhaps Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 is more complete than its “Unfinished” moniker implies. After all, the composer wrote and orchestrated two full movements, creating a kind of standalone half-symphony. But Severance Music Center audiences heard this work in a new way on January 13, when The Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst interlaced Schubert’s two memorable movements with an unexpected partner: Alban Berg’s Three Pieces from Lyric Suite.
The strings-only work by Berg has made relatively frequent appearances on the Orchestra’s programs. In 2021, the musicians recorded it for the In Focus series, and it appeared again on last year’s European tour. Friday’s rendition maintained the group’s characteristic light and effortless playing, each section blending as much as possible to echo the work’s original form as a string quartet. At fifteen minutes total, the piece is quite short, but the dense encoded musical meanings require some extra-attentive listening. Splitting up the three movements ensured that each one could be appreciated on its own. [Read more…]