Notes and Editorial Reviews
Even if you already own one or more recorded versions of these amazing scores, seriously consider Thomas Fey and his crackerjack musicians. A revelation!
Nearly two years after launching a projected Beethoven cycle with the First and Second Symphonies, Thomas Fey follows with numbers Four and Six. Superlatives are dangerous, yet I gladly risk them on behalf of this stunning release. Put simply, these are the most arrestingly detailed, vibrantly executed, emotionally generous, and utterly alive performances of Beethoven's Fourth and Sixth Symphonies I've heard in many a moon. The sense of foreboding and mystery in the Fourth's Adagio introduction is heightened by the conductor's
pinpointed attention to Beethoven's careful dynamic gradations. Pungent brass chording vivifies the transition into a fleet Allegro Vivace that drives home the combative uplift suggested by the composer's biting accents and syncopated phrasings. In the slow movement, listen to how the various two-note phrases are treated not like accompaniments but accomplices, while the poignant, lyrical violin theme gains back its long-eroded edge. To be certain, other conductors have taken the Finale at a precipitous clip with no notes garbled or lost (Zinman, for example, and Abbado with the Berlin Philharmonic), but Fey's punchier bass lines, more characterful wind/brass dialogues, and touch of vermouth in the string tone take top honors.
Similarly, the Pastorale's bucolic subtext is underlined by the earthy tints conjured up by the string section's minimum vibrato policy. Its sustained lines shimmer like woven glass against the beautifully played wind solos in the Szene am Bach. Notice also how Fey obtains grittier-than-usual accentuation in the trio, and folksier solos. Many conductors plow through the Storm, leaving orchestral details to fend for themselves. By contrast, Fey plays the Allegro so that its component parts can be sensibly shaped, and, more importantly, to establish an insidious, organic transition into the Finale. When the latter sounds harmonically static and sloshy in performance, that's not Beethoven's fault. Here Fey's prismatically balanced orchestral choirs are akin to a restored painting, where the old suddenly becomes not just new, but meaningful again. Even if you already own one or more recorded versions of these amazing scores, seriously consider Thomas Fey and his crackerjack musicians. A revelation!
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria
Length: 29 Minutes 57 Secs.
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