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Beethoven: Symphonies 1-9 / Skrowaczewski, Et Al


Release Date: 03/27/2007 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 526   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Annette DaschDaniela SindramChristian ElsnerGeorge Zeppenfeld
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony OrchestraBavarian Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 5 Hours 53 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Symphonies: Nos.1–9 Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, cond; Annette Dasch (sop); Daniela Sindram (mez); Christian Eisner (ten); Georg Zeppenfeld (bs); Bavarian RCh (Michael Glässer, dir); Saarbrücken RSO OEHMS 526 (6 CDs: 353:19)


The performances that comprise this cycle of Beethoven symphonies conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski on Oehms and herein collected have been reviewed previously in Fanfare . Jeffrey J. Lipscomb reviewed Symphonies 2 and Read more 3 in 29:6, Jerry Dubins reviewed No. 9 in 30:2, and I reviewed the remainder in 31:1. Please see those reviews for a more thorough analysis of the individual performances. Since I have now had a chance to listen to the performances of the symphonies that I missed, however, I take this opportunity to add my two cents to the assessments of my colleagues.


I heartily concur with Jeffrey Lipscomb’s very positive assessment of Nos. 2 and 3. Lipscomb singled out the antiphonal violins in these performances; my feeling is that this practice not only clarifies the music for strings, it also fills out the sound of the string body and provides an overall sense of balance missing when the violins are seated together. Skrowaczewski’s interpretation of the Second Symphony shows to full advantage the innovative nature of this piece; the Larghetto possesses a notable sense of nobility in this expansive reading. Despite the truncation of the da capo repeat in the third movement, this is a very strong performance that shares with the performance of the First a subtle and effective variety of dynamics to communicate the freshness of Beethoven’s overhaul of the world according to Haydn. The conductor makes particular mention in his program note of the secondary and tertiary voices in this music, and he has done a remarkable job—aided by his engineers—of producing performances that need no special pleading to make their effect.


The performance of the Third (in addition to the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth) was recorded in the Kongresshalle in Saarbrücken; it produces a more tightly focused sound than that which was obtained in the more spacious acoustic of the Sendesaal (where the remainder of the symphonies were recorded). There is a consequent loss of some detailing of inner voices so noticeable in the other venue; this is more than compensated for by those peremptory opening chords and the urgency of a first movement that builds to an almost overwhelming sense of power: “I can do anything!” At the opening of the Marcia funebre, the basses groan out their melancholy, and that sense is communicated even more fully by the eloquently mournful oboe. The urgency of the first movement is translated into deep feeling in this second one, especially in the major-mode sections, which attain a majestic forcefulness.


There is a febrile sense of anticipation—perhaps impatience is a better word—in the first movement of this performance of the Ninth that is aided by the clarity of the inner phrases—those secondary and tertiary voices referred to by Skrowaczewski in his program note. There is here a rare sense of implacable will in the face of adversity that is as “authentic” as in any performance by Roger Norrington—with the difference that this performance doesn’t bother with point-scoring—this is just great music-making. The breath-taking initial tempo of the second movement produces both excitement and a sense of impish glee in this display of seemingly effortless invention.


The timings of the last two movements bring this performance closer to the two by Barenboim (West-Eastern Divan and Staatskapelle Berlin) than to Abbado or Gardiner (not to mention Zander) in recordings of relatively recent vintage, producing a sort of traditional-period hybrid. Given Skrowaczewski’s attitude toward Beethoven’s metronome markings, this in itself isn’t surprising; that there is a powerful sense of unity to this performance is testament to Skrowaczewski’s vision and the effectiveness of his achievement.


It is indeed too bad that a bit of reshuffling of pairs of symphonies couldn’t have alleviated the need to isolate the Second and Third Symphonies on single discs, thus producing a set comprising six discs instead of five; that is the only quibble I have with this otherwise exceptional set of the Beethoven Nine.


FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Annette Dasch (Soprano), Daniela Sindram (Alto), Christian Elsner (Tenor),
George Zeppenfeld (Bass)
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 

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