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Discussion: Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 6 - Vänskä

Posts: 6

Post by darkroommd December 21, 2007 (1 of 6)
I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of this most recent issue in Vanska's Beethoven cycle. Even more now after reading David Hurwitz's smashing 10/10 review at ClassicsToday, where he frankly dismisses other recent competing cycles -- such as those on period instruments and that of Mikhail Pletnev. The three previous issues in this series (4/5, 3/8, and 9) remain solidly some of my favorite SACD's, much in agreement with Hurwitz's description of this newest issue as "permanently enjoyable."

Post by tommwi December 21, 2007 (2 of 6)
darkroommd said:

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of this most recent issue in Vanska's Beethoven cycle. Even more now after reading David Hurwitz's smashing 10/10 review at ClassicsToday, where he frankly dismisses other recent competing cycles -- such as those on period instruments and that of Mikhail Pletnev. The three previous issues in this series (4/5, 3/8, and 9) remain solidly some of my favorite SACD's, much in agreement with Hurwitz's description of this newest issue as "permanently enjoyable."

This release is the best so far from this BIS series and I doubt there is anything on SACD that can match the 6'th. Not beating my most prefered versions but still something to treasure. It strikes me as fairly conventional though and you won't be in for much of surprise. I think Pletnev's Beethoven set is mistreated by Hurwitz.

Post by seth December 21, 2007 (3 of 6)
darkroommd said:

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of this most recent issue in Vanska's Beethoven cycle. Even more now after reading David Hurwitz's smashing 10/10 review at ClassicsToday, where he frankly dismisses other recent competing cycles -- such as those on period instruments and that of Mikhail Pletnev. The three previous issues in this series (4/5, 3/8, and 9) remain solidly some of my favorite SACD's, much in agreement with Hurwitz's description of this newest issue as "permanently enjoyable."

Hurwitz used to be a critic who even if you disagreed with, he was still entertaining to read. Now, he's just become a fanatic and hypocrite, with a major hard-on for HIP, Norrington and Rattle. He rails about HIP performances as if they're the work of the devil, but then gives everything Rene Jacobs and Mackerras do a 10 (and typically deservedly so).

From his review:
"So let's be clear. No period instrument group in existence can play this music as well as a superbly trained, regularly constituted major symphony orchestra such as we find here,"

I just heard Gardiner conduct the ORR in three Brahms concerts in Paris last month, which included the 1st and 2nd Symphonies as well as the German Requiem. I don't think I've ever heard the Requiem so well played and sung. You can judge for yourself when it's released on CD -- the concert was taped live (and a video recording made in the Netherlands will be shown there next month).

Post by tommwi December 21, 2007 (4 of 6)
seth said:

You can judge for yourself when it's released on CD

Also the symphonies ?

Post by seth December 21, 2007 (5 of 6)
tommwi said:

Also the symphonies ?

Yes. And 3 and 4 will be recorded next year.

A lot of choral music was performed at each concert (and the Haydn variations), but it's unclear what of that will be included. Hopefully, each concert in their entirety will be released since the programs were quite smart and the Monteverdi Choir is so superb. The violin concerto was performed with Mullova back in the spring, but no news on if that will be released.

What's so short sighted about Hurwitz's comments, is that the London orchestras, most notably LSO, are essentially pickup orchestras like period instrument orchestras, so is the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra that recorded with Bruno Walter, and many orchestras Stokowski organized.

Post by darkroommd December 22, 2007 (6 of 6)
tommwi said:

This release is the best so far from this BIS series and I doubt there is anything on SACD that can match the 6'th. Not beating my most prefered versions but still something to treasure. It strikes me as fairly conventional though and you won't be in for much of surprise. I think Pletnev's Beethoven set is mistreated by Hurwitz.

The only other 6th I have on SACD is Haitink/LSO. It is fine, but not memorable. The best 6th I have is Karl Bohm with the VPO on DG. The Pastoral is particularly well suited to his relaxed tempos, as well as the sweet sounds of the Vienna winds.

I have not heard Pletnev's Beethoven symphony cycle. But if they are treated in the same way as his piano concerto cycle, then I probably would like them. Perhaps he strays from a strict interpretation with the occasional unexpected accent here or there, or swift tempos, but the overall effect is rather riveting, if you ask me.

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