Saturday, July 15, 2017

Beethoven, Ludwig van. (!770-1827) Symphonies No 4 & 5.


New acquisition.
Date of purchase: November 2016.
First listen: 14-7-2017.
Label: Zig-Zag territoires.
CD 2 from 6.
Recording dates: December 2005 & December 2007.
Recording venue: Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Bert van der Wolf.
Running time: 62:23.
Relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performance.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 4, opus 60 in B flat major.
Symphony No. 5, opus 67 in C minor.

Works performed by:
Anima Eterna, Jos van Immerseel.

More and more I tend to replace my conventional performances by authentic ones. From Beethoven I already have Roger Norrington and the Christopher Hogwood set,  plus the John Eliot Gardiner, and now I have added the Immerseel for good measure and comparison.  And to be honest Immerseel wins on all counts. His orchestra has the oomph to create the same dynamics as normal performances, but also happens to be the better orchestra of the two mentioned above. Immerseel is a man with a mission and makes a statement in almost all recordings he has made. Beethoven is such a statement. He makes my picture complete and the transition to the authentic performance style easy.
Frankly I did not hear better performances of both the fourth and fifth. They are riveting, and have a lot of punch. Marveling in listening to the clear expression of the timpani, and the weight of the strings. The tempi are spot on and I even craved for more tempo in the second movement of the fourth. The fast and furious finale blew me away. The intro of the fifth symphony has punch and weight, but the dynamics are sensibly applied. So no hammer blows and undue slowing down of the tempi, but a cleanly executed statement. Every beat sits in the right place and the strings sings constantly, such is the loving partnership between orchestra and conductor. I even managed to hear instruments of which I knew they were there, but never was able to find while listening, Well on this recording you will hear them, like the Tuba in the last measures of the finale. 
The artistic growth this orchestra has gone through over the years is amazing, they learn as they go, which gives me every indication they they are enjoying the challenges thrown at them. There is no limitation in the colouristic display of authentic instruments, on the contrary I would say. The extra lilt, charm, nuance and a display of tonal shades is applied effectively in every note.  All melodic lines are beautifully drawn out of the texture. This is on all counts a solid technical accomplishment and we as listeners reap the rewards of it. 
The shimmering surfaces and gossamer textures are beautifully captured by the engineer.



Riisager, Knudåge. (1897-1974) The Symphonic Edition, Volume I.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: November 2017. First listen: 21--11-2017. Label: Dacapo. Recording dates: September 2010 & Februa...