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Beethoven: Overtures / Markevitch, Concerts Lamoureux

Beethoven / Markevitch
Release Date: 11/24/2009 
Label:  Idi   Catalog #: 6580   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Overtures: Coriolan; Leonore III; Fidelio; Consecration of the House; Name Day; Egmont Igor Markevitch, cond; Concerts Lamoureux O IDI 6580 (55:35)


In the course of my old career as an orchestral musician, one of my most treasured memories is working with the great Igor Markevitch in Jerusalem in the early 1980s. He was already in frail health and his appearances with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra were to be among his last, but the elegant rigor of his musical Read more vision was still remarkable, in music by Mahler and Richard Strauss (whose cause he ardently championed in Israel, still a controversial stance at that time).


He excelled at a wide range of music; if listeners today are more familiar with his classic recordings of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, his way with Beethoven was no less remarkable. He never recorded a complete symphony cycle, alas, but individual symphonies have been available from DG and a few long-vanished French Decca CDs. The present collection gathers together his DG overture collection from 1958. With the exception of Egmont, these have already appeared in a nine-disc collection in DG’s “Original Masters” series. It’s not clear why Egmont was not included there; at any rate it is trumpeted here as a CD premiere, which I’m in no position to contradict.


The performances are vintage Markevitch: uncompromisingly serious, with a lean, hard-hitting rhythmic propulsion recalling Toscanini. What is striking is the way he deploys those intensely individual 1950s French orchestral sonorities in the service of Beethoven’s musical drama—the sharply pungent wind choir (complete with horn vibrato, buzzing bassoons, and percussive trombones), through which the lean string tone can slice like a knife. Fastidious attention to detail can be carried to almost unreasonable degrees of insistence—but since when was Beethoven a “reasonable” composer? For examples of what I mean, hear Markevitch’s merciless clarity in those obsessive dotted cross-rhythms toward the end of the exposition in Coriolan; or in Leonore III, the flaying syncopations of the stormy C-Minor section before the trumpet calls; or in Name Day, his relishing of the ubiquitous accented dissonances—a ruthless refusal to soften the blows even for a moment. But there is also a feathery lightness of touch where called for—those tripping pp strings in the E-Major closing section to Leonore III’ s exposition. The same overture also demonstrates his masterly varying of the tempo to tighten the screws of tension to the utmost, the coda building to an overwhelming fff climax that is not easily forgotten. Indeed, if there is a more exciting account of this overture available I’d like to hear it. The newcomer, Egmont, broods and finally exults like few others.


Not surprisingly, IDI’s transfers are no competition for DG’s official ones. They derive from LPs, of very uneven condition by the sound of things. At their best they are well focused and truthful, with minimal intervention though fairly heavy surface noise. At their worst they are badly distorted and unpleasantly filtered to boot. Unfortunately the worst-afflicted is Egmont, which seriously diminishes the disc’s attractions. Production is less than ideal in other respects: Gaps between the overtures are too short for comfort, and documentation is typically bare-bones. For those who want a sampling of Markevitch’s Beethoven without investing in the DG set, this disc could serve a purpose. For hard-core Markevitchians who must have every note (count me in!), the Egmont fills a small gap until and if something better comes along.


FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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Works on This Recording

1. Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
2. Leonore Overture no 3 in C major, Op. 72a by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1805-1806; Vienna, Austria 
3. Fidelio, Op. 72: Overture in E major by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
4. Die Weihe des Hauses, Op. 124 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
5. Egmont, Op. 84: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1810; Vienna, Austria 
6. Zur Namensfeier Overture, Op. 115 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814-1815; Vienna, Austria 

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