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Posted May 30, 2014
Both of these mature masterworks receive confident, proficient readings. The emphasis is on verticality: many felicities of Beethoven’s intricate scoring emerging fresh and vivid. Repeats are observed throughout. The sound pickup originating in two Carnegie Hall concerts is tight and well balanced. Winds sound particularly natural. Lacking is an aura of exhilaration as well as a significant sense of mass in part the consequence of a lean string complement. Reticent horns and timpani contribute to this impression. One longs for the likes of Kleiber, Abbado, Bohm, Klemperer, Walter, Solti, Vanska, etc. This release can be construed as an unvarnished document of an important American ensemble sadly absent from the recording scene since their halcyon days with DGG. Like so many artists they have opted to set matters straight with the formation of a recording label bearing their name. It will be interesting to see what projects follow.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2014
Acceptable Beethoven, but something is every so slightly off
This recording of Beethovens Symphony No 5 and No 7 is interesting, and has a lot to offer. The musicians do a fabulous job, and the recording quality is excellent. But the pacing was slightly disturbing for me.
Beethovens Symphony No. 5 appears first, and I expected great things from the first movement and was not disappointed in the slightest. It was in the second movement where I felt that some of the spacing and pacing holding rests just a hair longer than is typical, and rather than adding to the dynamic tension of the piece I found this to be rather distracting. The 3rd movement is very well played and each melodic line has great clarity. Unfortunately, the 4th movement doesnt quite flow in a way that is comfortable for me. However, each note is articulated clearly and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is clearly giving their all. And in all fairness, if this was the first recording of this symphony that I had ever heard, I would have been thrilled.
The other work on the disc is Beethovens Symphony No. 7. And while I did find the first movement to also linger a bit here and there, the 2nd movement is very well played (and the crystal clear string work is laudable) albeit just a touch slow near the end of the movement. As for the 3rd movement, I felt that there were a few places where things were just a bit rushed and that just a hair more lingering on a note would have added so much. The 4th movement, though, is wonderful and filled with all of the excitement that it should be.
The liner notes are fairly basic, but with the background on the Orpheus being of the most value. As for this recording as a whole, I found the interpretation to be slightly uneven, but I have no doubt that many will fall in love with it. As for me, Im afraid that I am most definitely in love with Karajans interpretations, and if you are in that camp then this performance may hit you the same way that it did me. But if you arent, then it is definitely worth exploring as there is so much here to drink in.
Posted March 14, 2014
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – Beethoven Symphonies NO.s 5 & 7 – KMPG
When it comes to recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies, the listener is spoiled for choice; the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors have all weighed in with their own versions.
That’s what makes the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s latest project such an interesting, even curious, choice.
Recorded in performance at Carnegie Hall, the Grammy winning 20 member ensemble plays, as always, without a conductor, applying instead what might be called a musical collective consciousness in their approach to dynamics and tempo which is most effective in the quieter passages of these works.
It’s when the music becomes louder and more vigorous that the size of the band begins to work against itself. These are all excellent musicians who play beautifully, but try as they might, 20 people simply cannot sound like 50 or 60 and the result is a sound that’s more like a sketch or a well executed watercolor than a fully realized oil painting.
Call it an interesting and well done idea; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s new live recording of Beethoven’s 5th and 7th symphonies should appeal most to those most familiar with this music as a chance to juxtapose the dynamic and tempo approach of a Bernstein or von Karajan against that of a self run ensemble. Some might conclude that they’re punching above their weight and need to beef up in size before looking for a re-match.
Recommended 8 out of 10 Oscar O.Veterano