Schubert’s Fifth Symphony is the most popular of his early symphonies. The Symphony in B flat major is very much in the spirit of its Classical kindred, particularly the symphonies of Mozart. The key relationships are in keeping with this equilibrium: the first and last movements are in the principal key, while the slow movement is in the subdominant key (E flat major) and the Minuet is in the parallel minor (G minor). The durations of the movements also conform to Classical proportions.
Unlike Schubert’s four earlier symphonies, the Symphony in B flat major does not begin with a slow introduction. There is merely a four-measure intro, so to speak, a curtain-raiser for the main subject that follows. In the development section, Schubert revisits the material in that brief intro. The recapitulation unexpectedly begins in the subdominant key (E flat major), which is what Mozart also did occasionally, as for instance in the ‘simple sonata for beginners’ that is well known to many piano learners (Sonata in C major KV 545).
The slow movement begins with one of Schubert’s loveliest melodies. While presenting with a Mozartian sweet smile, the music goes on to plumb darker depths as well. The Minuet recalls the corresponding movement in Mozart’s late Symphony in G minor; not only is it in the same key, its thematic material is similar too. The energetic finale begins with a catchy Haydnesque theme borrowed from Schubert’s opera Die vierjährige Posten from a year earlier.
Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi