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Simon Rattle Edition - Beethoven


Release Date: 10/12/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 57573   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Birgit RemmertKurt StreitThomas HampsonBarbara Bonney,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraCity of Birmingham ChoirCity of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 9 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Rattle’s long-awaited Beethoven cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic is on the whole a triumph – a superbly played account by one of the world’s great orchestras, under a conductor whose historically aware performances never fail to stamp the music with real personality. The obvious comparison is with the fine DG version from Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic, which is likewise based on the new critical edition by Jonathan Del Mar, whose painstaking research enables conductors to make informed decisions based on all the available sources. In recent years there has in any case been a predilection for leaner, less granite-like orchestral sonorities, as well as a move towards taking Beethoven’s controversially fast metronome markings into Read more account. It’s true that those markings need to be treated with caution: with the exception of the Ninth Symphony, they were added several years after the event, and it’s possible that Maelzel’s new-fangled metronome wasn’t wholly accurate.

One advantage the Rattle set has over Abbado’s is the greater immediacy of its recorded sound, with textural clarity aided by having first and second violins answer each other from opposite sides as they would have done in Beethoven’s day. (It beats me why Abbado fails to do this: even the much more traditional recent recording by Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle adopts the antiphonal layout.) The driving pace of the Second Symphony’s opening Allegro, the drama and urgency of the dissonant approach to the recapitulation in the finale of No. 4, the biting sound of the tremolo ‘open’ strings in the recapitulation of the Seventh Symphony’s Vivace, the snarling stopped horns in the Eroica’s funeral march – these are among the many moments in Rattle’s performances that go some way towards recreating the sheer physical impact the pieces must have had on their early audiences. No less impressive is the glowing warmth of the VPO’s playing in the slow movements – a sound that accords perfectly with Rattle’s often quite Romantic approach to the music.

Where Rattle departs most radically from the revisionist view of Beethoven – and thankfully so, in my view – is in the Adagio of the Ninth, where his extremely broad initial tempo brings out the music’s devotional quality and allows for greater contrast with the more flowing second theme. Rather less convincing is the sluggish tempo of the ‘Turkish march’ episode in the finale, which leaves tenor Kurt Streit struggling to convey the sense of happiness embodied in the text of his solo. The deliberate pace here also involves an ungainly acceleration for the ensuing fugal episode.

There are further tempo fluctuations in No. 7 – highly effective in the opening movement’s recapitulation and coda, where Rattle relaxes the pace for the music’s mysterious changes of key; more contentious, perhaps, in the second movement, whose major-mode episodes are noticeably slower than the surrounding material, despite the fact that they maintain the same hypnotically repeated dactylic rhythm. Rattle takes an unusually expansive view of the Pastoral, too – a work he regards as being perhaps the most spiritual Beethoven ever wrote. However, the storm – the Symphony’s one moment of high drama – surely needs to impart rather more urgency and tension than here. But these are small points. For all the merits of the Abbado set (among them an even stronger line-up of soloists in the Ninth, and a chorus less prone to verbal exaggeration; and greater energy in the outer movements of No. 7) Rattle’s must now be the strongest recommendation among modern Beethoven cycles.

Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 5 (out of 5)

-- BBC Music Magazine [reviewing the Symphonies, EMI 57445]

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The first two piano concertos of Beethoven stand apart from the remaining three as works of vigor, humor, and youthfulness. That spirit is brilliantly captured in these recordings from 1995, when Vogt was but 25, and the not-yet-knighted Rattle possessed a mop of still darkened hair (as opposed to the post-Stokowskian explosion he currently sports). You can tell from the opening notes of the Concerto No. 1, delivered in hushed tones that seem to smile like a mischievous child about to pounce with glee upon an unsuspecting passerby, that this is a special performance. Rattle made his name by taking a provincial orchestra and putting them on the map, and they certainly sound world-class here; alert, polished and exuding vivacity. Vogt’s nimble passagework and almost nonchalant excitement are in sync with this appropriately jovial point of view. Of course, there is plenty of competition for Vogt and Rattle in this repertoire, even at this budget-priced level.

-- Peter Burwasser, FANFARE [reviewing the 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Birgit Remmert (Alto), Kurt Streit (Tenor), Thomas Hampson (Baritone),
Barbara Bonney (Soprano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Live  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
10.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Lars Vogt (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1995 
Venue:  Butterworth Hall, University of Warwick 
Length: 37 Minutes 15 Secs. 
11.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Lars Vogt (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1995 
Venue:  Butterworth Hall, University of Warwick 
Length: 28 Minutes 47 Secs. 
12.
Fidelio, Op. 72 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Jon Villars (Tenor), Juliane Banse (Soprano), Thomas Quasthoff (Bass Baritone),
Thomas Ebenstein (Tenor), Ion Tibrea (Baritone), Angela Denoke (Soprano),
Alan Held (Baritone), László Polgár (Bass), Rainer Trost (Tenor)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804/1814; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/2003 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 110 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in C, Op.21: I. Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21: I. Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21: II. Andante cantabile con moto
Symphony No. 1 in C, Op.21: II. Andante cantabile con moto
Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21: III. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
Symphony No. 1 in C, Op.21: III. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21: IV. Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace
Symphony No. 1 in C, Op.21: IV. Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace
Symphony No. 3 in E flat 'Eroica' Op. 55: I. Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 3 in E Flat, Op.55 'Eroica': I. Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 3 in E flat 'Eroica' Op. 55: II. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
Symphony No. 3 in E Flat, Op.55 'Eroica': II. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
Symphony No. 3 in E flat 'Eroica' Op. 55: III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
Symphony No. 3 in E Flat, Op.55 'Eroica': III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
Symphony No. 3 in E flat 'Eroica' Op. 55: IV. Allegro molto - Poco andante - Presto
Symphony No. 3 in E Flat, Op.55 'Eroica': IV. Allegro molto - Poco andante - Presto
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36: I. Adagio - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.36: I. Adagio - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.36: II. Larghetto
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36: II. Larghetto
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.36: III. Scherzo (Allegro)
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36: III. Scherzo (Allegro)
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.36: IV. Allegro molto
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36: IV. Allegro molto
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: I. Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: I. Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: II. Andante con moto
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: II. Andante con moto
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: III. Allegro -
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: III. Allegro -
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: IV. Allegro - Presto
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67.: IV. Allegro - Presto

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