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Beethoven: Symphony No 8, Piano Concerto No 3 / Litwin, Gielen, Et Al


Release Date: 08/01/2004 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93056   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stefan Litwin
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you like Beethoven's Eighth Symphony served up in bold, primary colors, with textures as brash and hard-hitting as the zaniest Marx Brothers dialogue (the Scherchen and Kletzki recordings, for example), you'll find a kindred spirit in Michael Gielen. Comparing the present recording taped in January 2000) to the conductor's 1996 reading with the same orchestra (EMI), Gielen has mellowed a bit. In the first movement's second subject, for example, he allows the strings a wider degree of inflection and takes the Allegretto at a fractionally slower tempo, making it easier for the back and forth patterns between the strings and woodwinds to truly converse. I also prefer the remake for its warmer sonics, richer bass lines, and more colorful, Read more expressive woodwind playing (especially in the Menuet).

In Beethoven's Third Concerto Gielen provides an ironclad orchestral framework whose expressive qualities and dramatic continuity are conveyed by carefully calibrated instrumental balances rather than by adjusting the basic tempo. Pianist Stefan Litwin's pingy, fortepiano-like sonority and crisp fingerwork snugly fit into Gielen's conception.

Gielen's string-orchestra arrangement of Beethoven's Grosse Fugue employs an array of articulations and solo/ensemble proportions that evoke Bartókian terrain, or, in a few instances, Bernard Herrmann's high-pitched violin squeals reminiscent of the notorious shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho. Dare I suggest that the occasional syncopated bow-tappings suggest disco hand-claps à la "Hooked On Classics"? Gielen would kill me for saying that, but what's wrong with danceable Beethoven?

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
2. Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stefan Litwin (Piano)
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 

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