This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
BEETHOVEN Symphonies: Nos. 2; 6, “Pastoral” • Paavo Järvi, cond; German CP • RCA 7542542 (SACD: 72:51)
This is the penultimate release in the Järvi/Bremen Beethoven symphony series; only the mighty Ninth awaits domestic release. My enthusiasm forRead more this cycle has waxed and waned as other competing discs have come my way. However, given more time with which to become familiar with the earlier performances and the characteristic elements of these interpretations, my admiration has grown. Järvi adopts almost universally (and occasionally very) brisk tempos, and this tended to render some of the earlier performances lightweight and unrelentingly up-tempo by comparison with performances featuring a more flexible approach to pace, and with those from full-size modern orchestras; I would cite No. 7 particularly, though the “Eroica” also had much the same effect.
Now—and this is so important when reviewing a series, perhaps more so than when approaching individual performances—Järvi’s interpretive decisions seem much like those made by period-instrument devotees when applying their research to Beethoven. Järvi’s use of the Bärenreiter edition of the symphonies further reinforces his performance practices; not coincidentally, many conductors who have incorporated the suggested corrections made by Jonathan Del Mar in his urtext, beginning with Benjamin Zander and John Eliot Gardiner, have also employed tempos that approximate Beethoven’s metronome marks. Taken all together, Järvi’s timings aren’t so very different from those of Abbado in his Berlin series from 2000, which remains my benchmark cycle.
The program on this new disc follows the date of recording rather than chronological order, so that the performance of the “Pastoral” comes first (much as the Fifth preceded the First on an earlier release). It is a delight in every way. Repeats are observed throughout. The lilt of the first movement is established from the first notes. The clarity of the inner voices is made manifest by the chamber-size ensemble. Above all, it is the vitality of the tempo—not fast, not brisk, simply full of joy at just over 11 minutes in duration—that is so convincing. Fluidity and lilt continue into the second movement, along with the sense of utter contentment and peace as the riparian world slips by. The winds continue to impress with their unforced purity of tone, while the strings have a fullness that belies their relative reduction in number.
The robust gathering that is the third movement makes the most of the contrast between the peripatetic oboe and clarinet and the shy bassoon. The dancers tread the boards with just the right amount of heavy-footed jollity. The merriment is soon dispelled by the very convincingly performed tempest: timpani that thunder without becoming overpowering, and very precise rhythmic rain and wind from the strings. The simple piety of the last movement swells into a full-throated hymn of praise, and then returns to beatific calm.
After a stern and commanding Adagio in the first movement of the Second Symphony, the whirlwind Allegro con brio kicks in, and the Bremen-town musicians revel in this high-spirited music. The smoothly flowing Larghetto is equal parts earnest expressivity (minor-mode theme) and geniality (major mode). Järvi’s success at communicating the more serious emotion at the heart of this lovely movement proves that his series isn’t all just propulsion and impact.
The Scherzo is playful indeed as Järvi exploits dynamic contrast to keep the listener on his toes; this movement is marred (only slightly in my book) by Järvi’s decision to observe the cut in the last statement of the Scherzo theme (the first movement repeat is intact). The good spirits continue into the finale, which is a fitting conclusion to one of Beethoven’s sunniest pieces, and to this CD.
The aural perspective provided for both performances is close enough to allow the clarity to register without becoming in any way spotlit or claustrophobic.
I expect the new recording of the Ninth to crown this exceptionally well-performed and -recorded cycle of the Beethoven Symphonies. If it’s anywhere near the caliber of the first eight, this cycle will establish itself as a worthy studio complement to the superb live set conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras on Hyperion.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral"by Ludwig van Beethoven
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Period: Classical Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36by Ludwig van Beethoven
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Period: Classical Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Lively PastoralFebruary 7, 2013By M. Marsolais (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"I sought out this CD for the Pastoral Symphony I heard today on the radio. It's like none I've heard before, and I heard details in the piece which I've never heard before. What used to be background in heavier interpretations is brought to the forefront, and there is a lightness and vivacity that brings it to life again for someone like me who has heard it for decades. It lifts your spirit. If I were Beethoven, I think this is how I would have heard the Pastoral in my head."Report Abuse