Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770-1827) The complete Symphonies. CD 1.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Label: ZigZag territories.
CD 1 from 6.
Recording dates: December 2005.
Recording venue: Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Bert van der Wolf
Running time: 63:40.
Classical relevance: If it comes to authentic performances this set must rank high.

Works performed: 
The Creatures of Prometheus, Overture in C major, opus 43.
Symphony No. 1&2.

Works performed by:
Anima Eterna, Jos van Immerseel.

Now to hear these symphonies at a pitch between 435 and 448 Hz, is unusual as they are normally played at a pitch of between 415-430. There is a lot of thinking and logic behind the choosing of the pitch, and in this case I understand their reasoning. The booklet is in fact brimful with useful info, also in perfect Dutch, and is a must read. Not that I agree with all what is said, but it is perfectly valid. About the music nothing needs to be said, after all these are warhorses every classical music lover knows.
So I am commenting on the performance as I hear it. As to the tempi indicated in the movements they are strict to the letter, but in some instances it was not entirely what I was used to, by the likes of David Zinman, or Gardiner or Hogwood. In some instances I would have loved a little bit more pressure on the kettle, and some tighter tempi, but in other instances I found myself completely happy with the tempi, so we have to compromise and look at the musical merit, and that is without doubt the greatest asset of the set. I had to redefine my bearings as far as this music is concerned, but once adapted I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It is not the last word in terms of performance practice, but it's pretty close to perfection. So for me this is an excellent start of the first disc, and I am looking forward to the other 5 discs.
And then the sound...... it is very good, but....
When listening to the overture and the symphony No. 1 I thought, well it sounds good, but something was missing, until the last movement of the first Symphony started "Finale: Adagio-Allegro molto e vivace". Suddenly the sound stage opened up and we had a perfect front to back image with air around the instruments. Somebody has been sleeping while recording. It is not dramatic but very noticeable. The difference in sound is from good to top notch. After this the second symphony sounds perfect.
I am very happy to have bought this set, so much recommended by my musical friends.



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