Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
R E V I E W S
Symphonies: No. 2;
Bernard Haitink, cond; London SO
LSO LIVE SACD LSO0582 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 76:02) Live: London 11/26–27/2005;
These two symphonies stem from the LSO’s first Beethoven cycle in more than two decades. The event was widely praised in the British press—and for good reason, at least judging from the finely crafted performances on this CD, the second installment in LSO Live’s documentation of the series. Interpretively speaking, these are middle-of-the-road readings that defer neither to period-practice ideals nor to high-romantic doctrine: the sonorities are burnished rather than tart, but never thick or plump (listen to the shimmer and flow of the opening of the second movement of the Sixth); tempos, while never pushy, never drag, either (the forward pressure in the Larghetto of the Second is especially welcome); attacks tend to be rounded, but are always clearly defined; balances favor the strings, but the winds are never buried. One might fairly, if paradoxically, call the approach “impetuously amiable,” characterized alternatively by a lyricism that never turns syrupy (the often anti-climactic finale to the Sixth has just the right impetus here) and an energetic spring that never flirts with hysteria, even in the Sixth’s storm. The orchestra sometimes lacks heft (there’s no grip to the bass lines), but otherwise it’s admirable, with consistently suave playing from the winds. And while the sound is a touch veiled—even in the 5.0 surround tracks, which place you right up front—it’s better than many other recordings made in the anti-phonogenic Barbican.
In sum, if you’re on the lookout for uncontroversial performances that will stand up well on repeated hearings, you should find this an excellent choice. That said, if you already own multiple versions of these symphonies, you won’t find anything especially revelatory here, much less anything to alienate your affections from your favorites.
FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
London Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria
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