Product Description & Reviews
The release of Bernard Haitink's new cycle of the Beethoven symphonies has been one of the most talked about classical events of 2006. Over recent years many people had questioned whether another complete set of Beethoven's symphonies would ever be recorded. But Haitink's revelatory recordings have demonstrated why fresh new interpretations of the Beethoven's music are so important and why the composer's music is still so relevent today. Haitink's integral set of Beethoven Symphonies with the London Symphony has none of the stodginess that sometimes afflicted his earlier recordings with the Concertgebouw. His restudy of the works, and the presence of concert audiences translate into faster tempos, sharper accents, wider dynamic range and an overall sense of energy that imbue these nine masterpieces. Here, the Classic style is wed to Romantic expressivity but not to Romantic excess, Competition is abundant, ranging from Toscanini, Furtwängler, and the 1963 von Karajan to recent sets from the sometimes hyperkinetic Vanska, the more traditional Abbado, and the insightful Barenboim. But this new Haitink set, available in hybrid SACD/CD, is a solid contender. The early First and Second symphonies benefit from Haitink's leaner, more vivacious approach. The Eroica also sounds fresher. Its slow movement is still a funeral march, but moves a hair faster this time, just enough to be the difference between a pace that drags and a pace that flows and retains interest. In the outer movements, there’s a new spring to the rhythms and clarity in orchestral balances, and this Eroica has the cumulative intensity to make its full effect. Haitink's Fourth is in a grander mold than we usually hear. While never overblown, it has some of the wider scope and heroism of the odd-numbered symphonies. Like the Eroica, it is rhythmically vigorous and the prominent tympani and brass make an impact that sweeps the listener along. The Fifth can suffer from over-exposure but here it has a variety of tonal colors, tempos, and dynamics that make it seem newly minted while no less grand. The propulsive finale, with its pounding tympani and expertly played journey to transcendence, is especially memorable. The Sixth, the Pastorale, has that same feeling, its flowing tempos and skillful interpretive choices make this one of the best Sixths since Böhm's, with plenty of excitement in the Storm and warmth in the final movement. The Seventh gets a buoyant reading, predominately lyrical without neglecting its powerful rhythms. The driven final movement is exhilarating without being hectic. The Eighth is often considered the slightest of the Nine but Haitink’s brisk tempos make it dance and swagger; the lyrical sections played with engaging warmth. As for the Ninth, it is miles ahead of Haitink's earlier versions. The harmonic mist that opens the work is well delineated, the contrasts within movements carefully marked, the Scherzo bursting with energy, the incomparable Adagio sings at a more fluid tempo, the choral final movement as good as any in the catalogue, its structure crystal clear under Haitink's baton. The major filler in the set is the often scorned Triple Concerto, which gets a performance of warm lyricism that can only elevate its status. The playing of the London Symphony is phenomenal, especially since these are live recordings. The violins’ tone glows with radiance, their precise articulation helps make the rhythms energetic, the winds are uniformly excellent, the brass sleekly powerful, the potent percussion authoritative in climaxes. If a criticism can be made it would be that bass lines are sometimes weaker than desirable, perhaps a function of engineering that varies in clarity from disc to disc but is never less than good. In sum, a major addition to the Beethoven Symphony discography. --Dan Davis
Features & Highlights
|Item Weight:||0.53 pounds|
|Item Size:||5.25 x 0.85 x 0.85 inches|
|Package Weight:||0.57 pounds|
|Package Size:||5.04 x 0.94 x 0.94 inches|
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