Beethoven

Minnesota Orchestra (Vanska) – ‘Beethoven: Symphonies No.3 Eroica and No. 8’  An SACD review by Mark Jordan

Minnesota Orchestra (Vanska) – ‘Beethoven: Symphonies No.3 Eroica and No. 8’ An SACD review by Mark Jordan

There was a time, not so long ago, when almost every new Beethoven recording which was released had a sense of routine to it. But the last decade or so has found players and conductors of all ages digging deeper into these warhorses to find the depths that still lurk behind even the most familiar phrases. The young Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is now recording an entire cycle of the Beethoven symphonies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the orchestra he has been revitalizing ever since he was named music director in 2003. He proves to be a committed Beethovenian of vision, energy, and power. Between this cycle and the Haitink cycle on LSO Live, we may well find ourselves on the receiving end of the best Beethoven cycles in many years. read more…

London Symphony Orchestra (Haitink) – ‘Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, Triple Concerto’  An SACD review by Mark Jordan

London Symphony Orchestra (Haitink) – ‘Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, Triple Concerto’ An SACD review by Mark Jordan

Watch out for the quiet ones. They’ll get you when you least expect it. Bernard Haitink is a quiet one, and always has been, doing his work as conductor and orchestra builder in a straightforward, unglamorous way for over a half century now. I’ve found myself too frequently over the years looking past Haitink at more colorful personalities. But it’s always at that moment when I’m just about ready to dismiss Haitink as bland that he sneaks in something unexpectedly pulse-pounding. He has done it once again with his new Beethoven ‘Seventh’ with the London Symphony on LSO Live. On the surface, such a vital piece might seem unusual territory for Haitink’s quiet mastery, but the secret of that mastery is that he knows when to lead and when to give the players free rein. The result here is one of the most natural and joyous performances of Beethoven’s ‘Seventh’ I’ve ever heard. read more…

Beethoven Symphonies in TACET Real Surround Sound

TACET have release an SACD of Beethoven Symphonies No. 7 and No. 8, performed by the Polish Chamber Orchestra.

The following information is from Andreas Spreer of TACET.

“There are plenty of recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies already! read more…

Beethoven Orchestra Bonn (Kofman) – ‘Shostakovich: Symphony No.5, Symphony No.9’  A DVD-Audio review by Mark Jordan

Beethoven Orchestra Bonn (Kofman) – ‘Shostakovich: Symphony No.5, Symphony No.9’ A DVD-Audio review by Mark Jordan

Secret-coded protest of a heroic artist or the apology of a scared man toeing the party line? Debate has raged for years about Shostakovich’s ‘Symphony No. 5’, and it isn’t likely to cease any time soon. The work was sent out into the world in 1937 not long after Shostakovich had been raked over the coals in an unsigned article in the leading Soviet Union newspaper ‘Pravda’. Such uncredited articles were normally assumed to have the authority of Communist dictator Josef Stalin behind them. It appears that Stalin had gone to a performance of Shostakovich’s bawdy and musically adventurous opera ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District’, and found the subject matter appalling and the music rude. This was during the 1930’s, when the artistic intelligentsia in Russia were quickly realizing that people who were disliked by “Uncle Joe” Stalin had a way of disappearing, never to be heard from again. Shostakovich knew what danger he was in, and he wisely withdrew his wide-ranging, dark, and at times hallucinogenic ‘Symphony No. 4’ which was then in rehearsal for its premiere by conductor Fritz Stiedry (Side note to other classical record nerds: Anyone else out there have fond memories of a rough-and-ready LP of Haydn’s ‘Symphony No. 102’ by Stiedry from the early 1950’s on Music Appreciation Records?). His next major work to be issued was the ‘Symphony No. 5’, which was published along with the obnoxious tag, “A Soviet artist’s reply to justified criticism,” although it seems this groveling bit was suggested by a reporter or the publisher and did not originate with the composer. Shostakovich wisely just nodded his head and smiled. The piece seemed to be what a good, proper Soviet composer should write: Striving first movement, folk-influenced second movement, lyrical third movement, and rambunctious finale that ultimately triumphs. read more…

TACET Beethoven String Quartets – The Longest DVD-Audio Title

The latest DVD-Audio title from TACET is a recording of Beethoven’s String Quartets op. 18, nos. 1-6, the first in a series of four discs from the Auryn Quartet, Matthias Lingenfelder and Jens Oppermann (violin), Stewart Eaton (viola) and Andreas Arndt (violoncello). read more…

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Abbado) – ‘Beethoven: Symphonies No.7 in A major and No.8 in F major’ A DVD-Audio review by Mark Jordan

On October 17, 1917, in unusually hot weather, the players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their conductor Dr. Karl Muck squeezed in front of a large recording horn in Camden, New Jersey, and made the first recording of the last movement of Beethoven’s ‘Seventh Symphony’. read more…

Vienna Philharmonic (Kleiber) – ‘Beethoven: Symphonies No.5 and No.7’  An SACD review by Mark Jordan

Vienna Philharmonic (Kleiber) – ‘Beethoven: Symphonies No.5 and No.7’ An SACD review by Mark Jordan

The greatest recording ever made of Beethoven’s Fifth now makes its way onto SACD. It isn’t perfect – not that it could be – but this hybrid CD/SACD release is the finest incarnation yet of the inspired Carlos Kleiber’s legendary Vienna Philharmonic recording. The additional bonus for surround-sound listeners is that when this recording was originally made in 1975, quadrophonic sound was being toyed with, so Deutsche Grammophon made the recording in surround sound. Finally this release allows us to hear it in its full multi-channel glory. The multi-channel sound is 5.0 (3/2.0), without a separate low effects track, thus the bass is shallower than in many modern recordings, but it is by no means inadequate, considering that Beethoven’s orchestra of the early 1800’s did not call for the use of as many extended low registers as later composers such as Mahler or Strauss. This disc also contains the same team’s performance of Beethoven’s Seventh from a year and a half later. It is not quite in the same league as the Fifth, neither as performance, nor recording, but it is a logical and welcome filler for this release. read more…

Pennetier, Monte Carlo Philharmonic (Baudo) – ‘Beethoven: Piano Concertos No.1 and No.3’ An SACD review by Mark Jordan

The producer and engineer of this Lyrinx SACD, Rene Gambini, sets aside a page in the booklet to mention his discovery of Brauner Microphones, citing their neutrality and precision, allied with a liveliness and warmth akin to prestigious vintage mikes. read more…

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (Macal) – ‘Beethoven: Symphony No. 6’ A DVD-Audio review by Nigel Pond

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op 68 (Pastorale)
Respighi: The Pines of Rome

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zednek Macal

AIX Records has been around since 1989, but I will confess that I had not heard of them until I started researching DVD-Audio and SACD releases for this site. read more…

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