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Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 7 / Jurowski, Age Of Enlightenment Orchestra


Release Date: 05/31/2011 
Label:  Juxtapositions   Catalog #: 3079298  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray

JUROWSKI • Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Ludwig van Beethoven:
Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor

Recorded live at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, 4 February 2010

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 89 mins
No. of DVDs: 1

R
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BEETHOVEN Symphonies: Nos. 4; 7. Coriolan Overture Vladimir Jurowski, cond; O of the Age of Enlightenment IDÉALE AUDIENCE 3079294 (Blu-ray: 89:00); 3079298 (DVD: 89:00) Live: Paris 2/4/2010


This video should help dispel any doubts (if any remain) that readers might have concerning shortcomings, sonic or otherwise, of period-instrument recordings of Beethoven symphonies. There have been many fine recordings by historically informed ensembles and conductors, but the combination of artists, interpretations, and superb sound found here is exceptional. The relatively intimate proportions of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées are the perfect venue for the direct and immediate sound of the chamber-size Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Vladimir Jurowski’s straightforward approach to this music is the perfect complement to this orchestra’s sound.


The Overture to Coriolan makes the perfect curtain-raiser, whetting one’s appetite by providing a dramatic and attention-getting interpretation. The sound of the orchestra is immediate and impactful, due in part to the vibratoless string sound and to the natural brass; the timpanist, playing with hard sticks, provides striking punctuation. The sound production is also direct within a tightly focused soundstage but with ample depth (especially on the Blu-ray).


The performance of the Fourth Symphony features an opening movement with highly contrasted Adagio and Allegro elements. The second movement, perhaps the most genial of Beethoven’s slow movements, is graceful and wistful in its direct appeal, while the Menuetto remembers that it is essentially a dance, albeit a vigorous one; yet there is grace as well as precision, and the Trios are warm indeed. Throughout this performance I was struck by the sweet sound of the bassoon, which so often in the past has been the bane of antique-instrument performances. The finale, with its swirling winds and rambunctious timps, is all rollicking good humor after the suave Menuetto.


The Seventh Symphony proves that performances using period instruments are far from monolithic: In marked contrast to the conventional wisdom that HIP performances are whip-fast and lightweight, Jurowski favors moderate tempos—often more than a minute slower than the speedy Paavo Järvi (RCA) or scrupulous Benjamin Zander (Telarc)—and his orchestra produces a dramatic heft. The last two movements are not quite ideally contrasted, with practically identical timings, but Jurowski’s finale, played at a much less frenetic pace than is the unfortunate norm, gives us a majestic processional instead of a whirlwind perpetuum mobile.


The qualitative differences between the DVD and Blu-ray depend on your primary interest. The picture on the Blu-ray produces a more natural skin tone and is more sharply defined. The biggest difference, though, is in the sound: Even on a relatively modest home theater setup such as mine, there is more presence and detail in the surround sound of the Blu-ray, and it comes closer to an actual concert experience than the DVD. To echo the ever-astute Andy Quint, you’ll never go back to DVD once you’ve experienced a well-produced Blu-ray such as this one.


FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
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Works on This Recording

1.
Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 

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