Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Benjamin Ivry
British-born conductor Benjamin Zander is a man with a mission. He takes Beethoven's metronome markings with which Ludwig indicated ideal performance speeds literally. Some of the tempos are hair-raisingly fast, so these ever-popular symphonies sound different than anyone else's. Instead of the usual "Fate Knocking at the Door," the 5th symphony begins with fate bashing down the door and running into the room. Even at these breakneck speeds, the music is beautifully played by the virtuoso Philharmonia Orchestra. Another unique feature of these performances is that Zander, who started at a cellist, emphasizes melodies for the strings at the expense of the wind section. ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Benjamin Ivry
British-born conductor Benjamin Zander is a man with a mission. He takes Beethoven's metronome markings with which Ludwig indicated ideal performance speeds literally. Some of the tempos are hair-raisingly fast, so these ever-popular symphonies sound different than anyone else's. Instead of the usual "Fate Knocking at the Door," the 5th symphony begins with fate bashing down the door and running into the room. Even at these breakneck speeds, the music is beautifully played by the virtuoso Philharmonia Orchestra. Another unique feature of these performances is that Zander, who started at a cellist, emphasizes melodies for the strings at the expense of the wind section. In an accompanying free CD, Zander gives an engaging lecture explaining his unusual viewpoints. He confesses that he idolizes Carlos Kleiber's legendary recording of Beethoven's 5th and 7th symphonies, unlike most other maestros who hate to admit that another conductor even exists. Like Joshua Rifkin, whose recordings of Bach choral works with just one singer on each vocal part caused a stir, Zander's headstrong literalness will certainly be controversial. But like Rifkin, Zander offers performances of real quality, which are the best arguments in his favor.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/28/1999
  • Label: Telarc
  • UPC: 089408047121
  • Catalog Number: 80471
  • Sales rank: 50,342

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Benjamin Zander Primary Artist
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Roll Over Beethoven

    I am no authority on musical interpretation, but I found Zander's interpretation (& the orchestra's performance) of this brilliant work of Beethoven to be exciting & interesting, as opposed to ponderous & boring, so I cannot possibly offer any criticism in this area. However, I use a studio mastering grade external DAC & ATC speakers, which offer extremely detailed sound, & I am in a position to criticise this CD on the basis of sound quality. It is not bad by any means, but it is not up to the same standards as Telarc's best efforts. One of the problems is that it is probably very difficult to record an entire symphony orchestra & achieve the competing requirements of overall instrumental balance & individual instrumental clarity, both at the same time, probably because the former may require distant miking & the latter may require closer miking. For this CD, the compromise has been made towards achieving overall balance, which is fine, but this has been at the expense of not being able to identify & place the individual instruments clearly & transparently in the reproduced soundstage. Unfortunately, the result is a rather two dimensional opaque presentation which prevents the inner detail of the more complex harmonious structures of this symphony being discernable when there are many instruments playing simultaneously. This is not really acceptable for a studio recording from an audiophile label. Perhaps the solution is to opt instead for a version which is played by a smaller (& perhaps more historically accurate) ensemble such as Hogwood's Academy of Ancient Music) where the balance & clarity are both reputed to be first class, despite being older recordings.

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