Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (Hybrid SACD)

Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (Hybrid SACD)

by Osmo Vänskä
     
 

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There's no better way for an orchestra to announce its intention to be taken seriously on the world stage than to record a Beethoven symphony cycle. That's exactly what the Minnesota Orchestra is doing here with their recently appointed music director, Osmo Vänskä, who joined the ensemble in its centenary year, 2003.See more details below

Overview

There's no better way for an orchestra to announce its intention to be taken seriously on the world stage than to record a Beethoven symphony cycle. That's exactly what the Minnesota Orchestra is doing here with their recently appointed music director, Osmo Vänskä, who joined the ensemble in its centenary year, 2003. The conductor's long-term association with the BIS label -- for whom he has surveyed the music of Sibelius with his other orchestra, Finland's Lahti Symphony -- provides a prestigious new home for the Minnesotans, and they are certainly making the most of the opportunity. This first installment of a five-disc series, featuring the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, includes some of the most riveting Beethoven to be recorded in recent years, as energetic, focused, and dramatic as one could wish. The Minnesota Orchestra is thriving under Vänskä's leadership, recapturing the flair of its classic Mercury Living Presence recordings (and recovering from its last few music directors, whose legacy was uneven at best). Boasting a rich and well-blended sound -- wonderfully captured by the BIS engineers at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis -- the ensemble responds with enthusiasm to Vänskä's lively tempos and to the very effective loud-and-soft extremes that he elicits. The Fourth Symphony, often overshadowed by the Third and Fifth, is no less a masterpiece; with its perky wind solos and bustling spirits, it comes off particularly well here. But the Fifth, from its famously assertive opening onwards, also lives up to high expectations in a performance full of dramatic contrasts and thrilling ascents to the climaxes. Whether you're looking to start a Beethoven collection or simply to experience the renewed vigor of a great American orchestra, you won't go wrong with this disc.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Osmo Vänskä is the Finnish conductor who first made his mark internationally in the last decade of the last millennium with his recordings of Finnish composer Sibelius. With the Finnish Lahti Symphony, Vänskä's Sibelius was a Finn's Sibelius: clear, lucid, light, luminous, muscular, and driven. Now with the new millennium, Vänskä has gone international with this recording of Beethoven's "Fourth" and "Fifth" symphonies, his first recording with the Minnesota Orchestra, and the start of a projected cycle of Beethoven's complete symphonies. Vänskä's Beethoven is a Finn's Beethoven. His Beethoven's "Fourth" is as light and luminous as his Sibelius' "Sixth" and his Beethoven's "Fifth" is as clear and lucid as his Sibelius' "Fifth." But Vänskä is also Vänskä and his Beethoven is also muscular and driven. The strength of his sforzandos and force of his fortissimos is enormous and the drive of his Allegros and especially his Allegro con brios is immense. Vänskä's Beethoven is not a lyrical or a meditative Beethoven. The tone of the Adagio of his "Fourth" could be a little less spiccato and the tone of the Andante con moto of his "Fifth" could be a bit more cantabile. Part of the reason for the tone, of course, is the Minnesota Orchestra. An ensemble with a long history of great conductors on its way up, the Minnesota is a virtuoso orchestra but one characterized by a gutty string tone, a rough wind tone, and a raw brass tone. But their tone and their virtuosity suit Beethoven to the floor and the result of the combination of Vänskä and the Minnesota is an ideal balance of overwhelming power and relentless motion. BIS' super audio CD sound is as real as its earlier digital recordings, but with greater depth and warmth.
New York Times - Anne Midgette
It's refreshing to hear a strong reading of Beethoven that isn't riddled with angst or the Seriousness of It All. Not that this sunny disk is at all superficial. It is instead a reminder that good music is simply music in which interesting things happen in a way that people can hear, and want to hear.
Gramophone - Richard Osborne
The Minnesota Orchestra are extraordinarily proficient: fleet-footed and articulate.... Like all good Beethovenians, [Vänskä] is clearly not afraid to be his own man.
The New Yorker - Alex Ross
There are no revolutionary interpretive departures, but the orchestra plays with startling, ear-cleansing vigor throughout, and the sound is a vivid as technology allows.
Classic FM Magazine - David A. Threasher
[April 2005 Disc of the Month] Vänskä’s recordings of these two symphonies reintroduce the works; the impression is of greeting an old friend who’s had a bit of a make-over – subtle titivations revealing facets that had previously gone unnoticed.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/2005
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318599914169
catalogNumber:
1416
Rank:
121427

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60  - Ludwig van Beethoven  - Osmo Vänskä  -  Minnesota Orchestra  - Arlette Lemieux-Chené  - Horst A. Scholz  - Robert von Bahr  - Robert Suff
  2. Symphony No. 5 in C minor ("Fate"), Op. 67  - Ludwig van Beethoven  - Osmo Vänskä  -  Minnesota Orchestra  - David Kornfeld  - Arlette Lemieux-Chené  - Horst A. Scholz  - Robert von Bahr  - Robert Suff

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