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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 / Frans Brüggen


Release Date: 04/07/2008 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 434029   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Frans Brüggen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the 18th Century
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Springy rhythms, staccato notes that really are staccato and fast tempos make the music unusually exciting, the last two movements of the Beethoven being outstanding." -- Gramophone [2/1986; reviewing Beethoven Symphony no 1]

"Just about the most enjoyable CD recording available of this work on period instruments. Strongly recommended." -- Gramophone [7/1986; reviewing Beethoven Symphony no 1]

Strictly speaking, a group calling itself the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century ought not to be playing Beethoven symphonies at all, but Frans Bruggen sees the playing styles of the latter part of the century as continuing until well into the first decade of the nineteenth, and when I interviewed him
Read more for Gramophone (December 1986, page 809) he wasn't contemplating going much further than the Eroica. So at the moment it doesn't look as though there's going to be a Bruggen Beethoven cycle to compete with Hogwood (L'Oiseau-Lyre) and Norrington (EMI), which is a pity, because his recordings of the first three symphonies suggest that he has plenty to tell us about the greatest of the great symphonists. A superficial hearing won't reveal much difference between Bruggen and his rivals in the Second Symphony: one notices the same clarifying of texture and sharpening of rhythm; tempos too are similar on the whole, except in the Scherzo where Bruggen is appreciably faster than either but still a degree more sharply etched than Hogwood.

There are important differences however. The playing of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century has qualities of wit and warmth beside which Hogwood and his Academy of Ancient Music can sound merely efficient. I was particulary taken with Bruggen's phrasing in the Larghetto of the Beethoven—not as determinedly pointed as Norrington, but free and shapely enough to feel expansive even though the pulse remains firm. And I loved the gently yodelling horns just before letter C—a pity the recording places them somewhat backwardly. It's a matter of mood here: Norrington's emphasis is on fresh air and muscle-tone; Bruggen's is a more reflective pastorale. Both are convincing.

-- Stephen Johnson, Gramophone [6/1989; reviewing Beethoven Symphony no 2]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Frans Brüggen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the 18th Century
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Frans Brüggen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the 18th Century
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 

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