BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES CR REVIEW

NORMAN STICHCOMBE REVIEWS A MERELY "DECENT" SET OF THE BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES FROM JUKKA-PEKKA SARASTE


BEETHOVEN COMPLETE SYMPHONIES: WDR Orchestra / Saraste (Profil 5CDs PH18066) ***

This is a well-played, decently recorded set by the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Cologne, conducted efficiently and unfussily by the utterly uncontroversial Jukka-Pekka Saraste. That's not enough in a market with a hundred plus competitors. It lacks what the best recordings have – a sense of danger, awe, wonder, joy and laugh-out-loud expostulation at Beethoven's boundary-transgressing musical daring. Compare the way Saraste handles the transition from Adagio to Allegro Vivace in the fourth which is tame by the side of Karajan's Berlin (1962) recording with its whip-crack fast switch from Milton's "darkness visible" to blazing light. Or Saraste's Eroica funeral march, dwarfed by the depth and monumental power of Davis's Dresden Staatskapelle or Klemperer's Philharmonia. One could go on, and on. The set is also expensive: Amazon price it at £34.59 while offering Barenboim's Berlin Staatskapelle 6 CD set (Warner) – better played and far more stimulating – at just £8.99.

Norman Stinchcombe

Popular Posts