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Beethoven: Symphonies, Ouvertures / Jos Van Immerseel, Anima Eterna


Release Date: 04/08/2008 
Label:  Zig Zag   Catalog #: 80402   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Thomas E. BauerMarianne Beate KiellandAnna-Kristina KaappolaMarkus Schäfer
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



A few misfiring moments, but this Belgian cycle is nevertheless a stimulating, exhilerating experience

The eternal question with new Beethoven symphony cycles -– is there room for another? When it’s as good as this, absolutely. There’s something of the art that conceals art about these performances. At first they can sound perhaps a touch generalised. But there are riches to be mined and they repay longer acquaintance. As with much of Immerseel’s work, you are left with the words “life-affirming."

-- Gramophone [6/2008] 3210420.az_BEETHOVEN_Symphonies_Nos_1.html Read more charset=utf-8" />

BEETHOVEN Symphonies: Nos. 1–9. The Creatures of Prometheus: Overture. Coriolan Overture. Egmont: Overture. The Consecration of the House Overture. The Ruins of Athens: Overture; Marcia alla turca Jos van Immerseel, cond; Anna-Kristiina Kaappola (sop); Marianne Beate Kielland (mez); Markus Schäfer (ten); Thomas Bauer (bs); Anima Eterna (Period Instruments) ZIG-ZAG 80402 (6 CDs: 369:17 Text and Translation)


Beethoven’s symphonies date from 1800 to 1824, beginning in a Haydnesque manner, soon finding their own voice, and concluding in what one critic termed “the paragon of the Romantic symphony.” Aside from their chronology, there is little I need to say regarding these works, as their familiarity makes it wholly unnecessary to explain or dissect them in any way.


The arrival of this six-CD box brings to three the number of sets of period-instrument recordings on my shelves, the previous and long-time residents being Christopher Hogwood conducting The Academy of Ancient Music (L’Oiseau-Lyre 452 551) and Roger Norrington conducting his London Classical Players (EMI 49852), with Hogwood’s cycle being the most recently completed (1989) of the previously existing versions.


So given the existing embarrass de richesse of this material on both period and modern instruments, one must either have an enormous brass pair even to entertain the idea of recording these icons of the orchestral repertoire, or be brilliantly insane! Even though there are already three cycles on period instruments, there is certainly room for another from someone with insight, common sense, and a strong sense of Beethoven’s overall structure. Enter Dutch fortepianist and conductor Jos van Immerseel.


Van Immerseel’s cycle is the first on period instruments in almost two decades, and like his recordings of the Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos on Channel Classics and Sony respectively, the performances are historically accurate on every point, not to mention esthetically satisfying, first note to last. The recordings capture the most subtle of nuances in Beethoven’s scores and allow the music to breathe and flower. Anyone doubting the ability of period instruments to project the power of Beethoven should listen to the finale to the Seventh Symphony or the thunderous opening to the finale of the Ninth. Van Immerseel accentuates the composer’s wit found in the teasing nature of the opening to the finale to the First Symphony and Beethoven’s more gentle side is captured in the delicate and tender second movement of the Sixth.


While the music was meticulously researched, not a scintilla of common sense has been set aside in the interest of musicology. Van Immerseel sounds sophisticated compared to the almost two decades old and frequently edgy Norrington; he is also slightly smoother overall than Hogwood. But in defense of the competition, I must say that period-instrument performance has advanced light years since the Norrington and Hogwood sets hit the streets, and my comments are not meant to denigrate them, as they were primus inter pares and highly praised in their day.


Van Immerseel has been meticulous in his research, and his erudite and articulate notes address sources, pitch, size of the orchestral and choral forces, dynamics, and tempo. Roger Norrington addressed his embracing Beethoven’s metronome markings for his cycle, and Jos van Immerseel does the same, noting that while artistic opinions vary, Beethoven’s tempos are “perfectly accurate, but will only work when implemented by the right instruments, [and] by an orchestra that is not too large . . .”. The tempos, though brisk by some standards, make perfectly good sense, bringing to mind Otto Klemperer’s famous “You vill get used to it!” comment regarding his adoption of tempos at the other end of the spectrum.


The soloists and chorus used in the Ninth Symphony also require comment. Though largely unknown here, the quartet consists of established European soloists who confidently tackle Beethoven’s nigh-athletic vocal writing and tame its difficulties. The agile, articulate, and well-drilled chorus is small, consisting of only six voices per part, but these are strong, vibrant voices that sound far more numerous than they are without ever sacrificing tone quality. At the peak of the finale, they can hold their own with the band.


As for the orchestral playing, it leaves nothing to be desired; intonation is true and ensemble is razor sharp. Anima Eterna captures the music’s raw energy and succeeds in coupling it with eloquence and warmth, resulting in a wonderful blend of soul and virtuosity. In the end, these are sterling performances, certainly capable of going toe-to-toe with the period-instrument competition and well worth the time and effort to open your wallet.


FANFARE: Michael Carter
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Works on This Recording

1.
Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 53 Secs. 
2.
Egmont, Op. 84: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1810; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 21 Secs. 
3.
Ruins of Athens, Op. 113: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 4 Minutes 10 Secs. 
4.
Ruins of Athens, Op. 113: no 5, Marcia alla turca by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
5.
Die Weihe des Hauses, Op. 124 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 11 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 4 Minutes 50 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 24 Minutes 40 Secs. 
8.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 32 Minutes 46 Secs. 
9.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 46 Minutes 29 Secs. 
10.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 30 Minutes 6 Secs. 
11.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 31 Minutes 33 Secs. 
12.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 40 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Notes: r c1937 
13.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 24 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: r c1938 
14.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 39 Minutes 0 Secs. 
15.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Thomas E. Bauer (Bass), Marianne Beate Kielland (Alto), Anna-Kristina Kaappola (Soprano),
Markus Schäfer (Tenor)
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 64 Minutes 39 Secs. 

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