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Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 7 / Da Costa, Wildner, Taipai Symphony

Beethoven / Da Costa / Taipei Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 43363   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alexandre Da Costa
Conductor:  Johannes Wildner
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 28 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto. Symphony No. 7 Johannes Wildner, cond; Alexandre Da Costa (vn); Taipei SO WARNER 64336 (2 CDs: 87: 50)

It’s a pleasure to audition CDs that stand out from the crowd, regardless of the reason, and this pair from Warner Classics certainly does that. Johannes Wildner’s Beethoven Seventh, whatever else one might say about it, is a feast of antiphony and counterpoint. I can’t remember when I had such fun hearing a Beethoven Seventh recording. Passages that all too often turn out to be Read more “eye-music” are here transformed into “ear-music,” and it’s delightful to hear the material thrown back and forth from section to section—this time dividing the violins actually does pay off. Let me also give credit to the producer, Phil Rowlands and, perhaps, to whoever designed the Suchow University Performing Arts Center, the acoustics of which also may have made a contribution to what I found to be quite a beautiful-sounding pair of CDs. As for the performance of the symphony, it’s a solid one with conventional tempos and all repeats observed. I don’t especially care to hear the one in the first movement, but I think that observing all the ones in movement four is beneficial, giving the music an even more obsessive personality than it already has. I would have preferred a slower tempo in the Allegretto, but his timing (just under eight minutes) is closer to what Beethoven had in mind; I prefer what, say, Beecham, Klemperer, and Walter had in mind. It’s not the most impassioned or animated performance out there, but this recording carves out a special niche for itself, and my pleasure actually increased on a second hearing.

Speaking of special niches, are you tired of soloists who choose the Joachim or Kreisler cadenzas in performances of Beethoven’s Concerto? Alexandre Da Costa and Wildner may or may not have the solution to your problem. The performance shares the beautiful sonic characteristics of the symphony recording: “air” around the playing and impressive detail. Moderate tempos prevail and Wildner occasionally expands the tempos in the tuttis to good effect. On the whole, it’s a relaxed, charmingly songful view of the piece with its own inner rhythm. Some may find Da Costa’s playing rather too sweet for Beethoven, but the second movement is lovingly delivered and the finale is playful rather than bouncy. If the performance is so relaxed that it begins to lull you to sleep, you’ll awaken for the wacky cadenzas, which were composed by one Airal Ichmouratov and are all over the place, including even klezmer (!) elements. Eventually, the orchestra joins in the “fun.” Transitions back to real Beethoven are, to say the least, awkward but this is certainly not “just another recording” of the piece. If you’re curious, the set seems to be priced as a “twofer.”

FANFARE: James Miller
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alexandre Da Costa (Violin)
Conductor:  Johannes Wildner
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Soochow University, Performing Arts Cent 
Length: 46 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alexandre Da Costa (Violin)
Conductor:  Johannes Wildner
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Soochow University, Performing Arts Cent 
Length: 41 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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