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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Beethoven's Triple Concerto works best when played like a svelte, bubbly concerto grosso rather than middle-period Beethoven pretending to be Elgar. For that to happen, you need a firm, decisive podium master who keeps everything clear and moving ahead. And you need three virtuoso soloists with rhythmic élan, beautiful tone, and radar-like ensemble sensitivity. Enter Zinman, Bronfman, Shaham, Mørk, and Zurich. No, that's not a law office, but rather the musician participants, who embody all the aforementioned criteria and come up with the best-integrated, least-platitudinous, most consistently characterized and caringly detailed Beethoven Triple Concerto ever committed to disc.
The opening ritornello's eloquent section work, lively rhythmic inflections, and snarling brass sonorities probably sound better than anything Beethoven expected, while violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Truls Mørk seamlessly yet passionately merge to the point where it's hard to tell who's playing what in common registers. And pianist Yefim Bronfman builds upon the stylish flair and sensitivity he brilliantly displayed in his previous Beethoven collaborations with Zinman (the Third and Fourth concertos). By virtue of the superb engineering, the balance between soloists and orchestra emerges in perfect perspective.
The Septet, one of Beethoven's least favorite yet most tuneful and unpretentious creations, often is played without a conductor, and in truth it really doesn't need one--yet Zinman's presence makes itself felt. Notice, for example, the increased tension as a result of the first-movement slow introduction's minute tempo adjustments and pungent accents, or hear the Minuetto's excitingly contoured inner lines, or the textural interplay in the Finale that makes the excellent (albeit conductorless) Academy of St. Martin in the Fields sound generalized by comparison. Even if this budget-priced disc were listed at five times the cost, it would be a bargain. [4/21/2006]
– Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Septet in E flat major, Op. 20 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Yefim Bronfman (Piano),
Michel Rouilly (Viola),
Ronald Dangel (Double Bass),
Jakob Hefti (French Horn),
Gil Shaham (Violin),
Florenz Jenny (Bassoon),
Truls Otterbech Mork (Cello),
Michael Reid (Clarinet)
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 5 Customer Reviews )
A home run for the Triple. October 8, 2015
By M. Malouf (Mission Viejo, CA) See All My Reviews
"I've not been a big fan of the Triple Concerto, even when performed by the likes of Ma, Argerich, Perlman, Stern, and the other Hall of Fame players. I heard this recording while driving to a meeting that was due to start at 9:30. I had no idea who was playing but it was clear this was something special. Just everything about this performance is perfect and has already been well discussed in other reviews. I appreciate the fact that almost every bar is cleaned off and presented as something completely recognizable yet undeniably new. Beautiful and inspiring from beginning to end, and I didn't even mind all the heads wagging at me as I walked into the meeting at 9:45 looking like I had just beheld an angelic vision."
Beethoven with a Twist May 27, 2015
By Daniel W. (Amherst, NY) See All My Reviews
"Simply delightful music. The triple concerto is magnificant, but I was delightfully surprised by how I liked the Septet. Amazing how Beethoven is able make beautiful music so powerful."
Fine Recording August 13, 2014
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"Beyond its bargain price, this excellent Arte Nova disk has several other pluses going for it: two of Beethoven's lesser performed compositions, the excellence of David Zinman and his Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, and finally a set of world class soloists to give Beethoven's Triple Concerto a fresh, compelling performance. To be really effective, the Triple Concerto requires that the soloists really step up and deliver when they are going solo, but at the same time to seamlessly transfer the baton to each other (so to speak) and to establish absolute balance when playing together. Vioinist Gil Shaham, cellist Truls Mork, and pianist Yefim Bronfman perform their respective roles like they've been playing this work together for years- definitive, finely articulated, and not overbearing. I was also taken with the natural sounding balance between soloists and orchestra, and for this David Zinman's polished orchestral forces deserve strong kudos. This is a really fine performance, and if you don't have a Triple Concerto in your CD collection, this one should be seriously considered. The Septet comes across equally well, a refined and impressive account of a chamber work which probably is not well known, even by real Beethoven fans. The sound qualities of this disk are just fine; the recording level seemed just a bit low, but this is easily overcome by the volume control on your system. All in all, a very satisfying and worthwhile recording."