Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Clean and Stylish, but Static Beethoven


Last May I raved about the 3rd volume in the Resound Beethoven series, where Martin Haselbock and the Orchester Wiener Akademie performed the Egmont music and the Consecration of the House Overture in the hall in which the music had been premiered. With the latest volume the stakes have risen, though. I consider the Eroica Symphony the greatest symphony ever written, and there are a string of performances that I worship: Klemperer, Walter, Szell, Karajan, Giuilini in the big-band group, and Bruggen and Harnoncourt on the HIP side. How do Haselbock and his Vienna group compare, forgetting for a moment their completely apposite venue (the Eroica Saal at the Palais Lobkowitz)?

Listen to this great live performance with the Orchestra of the 18th Century conducted by Frans Bruggen:


It's clear that Haselbock doesn't bring anything close to that excitement from the beginning. Furthermore, Tom Service praises both Bruggen and Otto Klemperer for "the cumulative momentum that builds from the first bar to the last" in the ground-breaking 1st Movement. I don't feel the momentum, which I think really does explain why these Klemperer and Bruggen move me so much. Thanks for that explanation, Tom! Haselbock turns in a clean, stylish performance, but it's curiously static. I'm still impressed with the concept of hearing Beethoven's music in the space in which it was first heard, and the contrast between the Symphony and the Septet on the 2nd disc does help to define the acoustic space. But music of this greatness really requires something special when it comes to interpretation.

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