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Beethoven: Symphonies No 5 & 7 / Gustavo Dudamel

Release Date: 08/08/2006 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000689902   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A remarkable music-education program founded in 1975, nicknamed El Sistema, has encouraged a blossoming orchestral culture and saved thousands of deprived children from dubious futures. One of those children was Gustavo Dudamel, now 25 and the music director of the pioneering Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra.

The fiery and gifted young maestro might have chosen lesser-known Latin American works for his debut on Deutsche Grammophon. Instead he opted for two of the most frequently recorded staples of the repertory: Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies.

The gamble has certainly paid off. The members of the Caracas-based Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, who range from 16 to 20, combine
Read more youthful enthusiasm, technical finesse and mature profundity: a rare combination, and an ideal one to capture the urgency and optimism of Beethoven’s Fifth. From the work’s sinister opening motif through the lyrical second movement to the spirited final allegro, there is a refreshing sense of excitement....

In Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Mr. Dudamel again elicits gorgeous phrasing from strings and winds. The hushed, beautifully shaded Allegretto is particularly lovely, and the spirited Allegro comes off with unbridled brio.

-- Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times

I was browsing in my local HMV store in Oxford when I heard familiar strains of Beethoven’s Fifth. I was struck immediately by the vitality of this rendition. Enquiring about the conductor I was amazed by his youth and the fact that DG had signed up an unknown to conduct two warhorses. I walked out of the store with the CD and must say how pleased I have been to have had the opportunity to hear this wonderful recording. Agreed, the world may not need another coupling of Beethoven 5 and 7 but when it’s this good I’ll make an exception.

The Fifth’s first movement shows evidence of influence from the “Authentic” school whilst retaining the robustness of the established view. There is a complete freshness apparent and the slow movement quite bowled me over. This is complemented by marvellous wind playing and the strings are brilliant too. There’s no turgidity but appropriate pathos and style is interwoven. The recording is also very fine.

These symphonies are music of youth and appropriately in the third movement there is great excitement and not a hint of routine. The large orchestra certainly makes a huge impact. The transition into the finale is tremendous and as it develops the compulsive energy of this masterpiece shines through. I haven’t enjoyed a Fifth so much since Tennstedt’s masterful performance at the Proms in 1990; both the original broadcast on my son’s third birthday and the recording.

A few weeks ago friends of ours joined us for a few drinks and we ended up playing about ten versions of the first movement of Beethoven’s Seventh. Sadly we didn’t have time for the other ten! Going from Toscanini’s wonderful New York Philharmonic of 1936 (RCA) to Rattle and the BPO (EMI) the winner was Carlos Kleiber on DG, similarly coupled as this disc; followed by Furtwängler (M&A)!

Dudamel’s is a splendid recording and I look forward to playing it often; it has such a “live” feel. I think I know the different versions of this piece more than any other symphony; even my beloved “Pastoral” and I was much struck by the vitality again and the vibrancy even if ultimately it is founding wanting in the depth I crave; but this may well change after repeated hearings. If we were to place this recording I’d put it just below Kleiber, Toscanini and Furtwängler but what an accolade for a young conductor and his marvellous orchestra. There is tremendous forward thrust in the first movement, suitable reflective playing in the slow movement and the wonderful third gets a great treatment. The famous “dancing yaks” (Beecham’s famous quote on the finale!) are clearly going to enjoy this version! There’s no feeling for safety-first at any time.

So despite not quite being the finished article - and it shouldn’t be - this is a tremendous achievement and especially in the circumstances of its recording. I can’t wait for his next recording.

Jaded with Beethoven? This will clear away the cobwebs!

-- David R Dunsmore, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Aula Magna, Caracas, Venezuela 
Length: 32 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Aula Magna, Caracas, Venezuela 
Length: 36 Minutes 10 Secs. 

Featured Sound Samples

Symphony no 5: III. Allegro
Symphony no 7: IV. Allegro con brio

Sound Samples

Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67: 1. Allegro con brio
Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67: 2. Andante con moto
Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67: 3. Allegro
Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67: 4. Allegro
Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92: 1. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92: 2. Allegretto
Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92: 3. Presto - Assai meno presto
Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92: 4. Allegro con brio

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