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Beethoven: Symphony No 4; Elgar, Ravel / Monteux, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Helicon   Catalog #: 29641  
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsSir Edward ElgarMaurice RavelLudwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4. ELGAR Enigma Variations. RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé: Suite No. 2 Pierre Monteux, cond; Israel PO HELICON 02-9641, mono (76: 18) Live: Tel-Aviv 3/7/1964

First the good news: Only a few months before his death at 89, Pierre Monteux is heard here in performances as vital and energetic as ever, rendered in clear, lifelike Read more though mono sound (although it seems to be doctored a bit to suggest the spaciousness of stereo). As for the bad news, such as it is, Monteux recorded all three of these works commercially, the Beethoven no fewer than three times, and all in superior stereo sound that enables the listener to hear his preferred left-right separation of the first and second violins.

Monteux’s Beethoven’s Fourth is a no-nonsense reading of great liveliness and clarity; the tempos, almost identical to those of his London Symphony recording, belie the age of the conductor. The orchestra responds with verve and precision. Exposition repeats are observed in both the first and fourth movements. A quibble: The four movements are mastered here so that they follow one another attacca , which almost certainly was not the way Monteux performed the symphony.

The other two works on the program are likewise similar to Monteux’s studio recordings; once he formed an interpretation of a work, his performances of it rarely varied much. In particular, there is no wallowing or dawdling in Ravel’s “Lever du jour,” and the uncompromising tempo of the “Danse générale” makes for an exciting conclusion.

Monteux gave four different programs in Tel-Aviv on this trip, one of them featuring Brahms’s Fourth Symphony; in her biography It’s All in the Music , his widow recounts how pleased he was to perform his beloved Brahms in the Promised Land. Since we have no Monteux recording of this work, it is to be hoped that Helicon and the IPO archives will be able to bring us that concert as well.

The notes are a bit skimpy, especially for a full-priced CD, but the disc timing itself is generous. (Was there a fourth composition on the program?) These three interpretations are best heard in the Decca studio recordings; the present CD can be recommended as a document of Monteux’s undiminished vigor in the last year of his life.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 "Enigma" by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898-1899; England 
Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 2 by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 

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