Author Topic: Beethoven in Period Performances  (Read 211837 times)

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George

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #60 on: April 11, 2007, 07:28:55 AM »
Szell, Klemperer, Furtwängler all tended to use tempos that were slower than Beethoven's metronome markings, but that was only one tradition.

Thanks, I was aware of this.  :)

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If you listen to the Toscanini cycle, the first thing you notice is the speedier tempos which were also observed by some other conductors (including Leibowitz and Krips). 

I recently listened through the Toscanini Immortal LvB cycle and very much enjoyed it!   :)

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Also, to the best of my recollection, Karajan's Pastoral ('63 cycle) was famous for being one of the fastest (and imo worst) on disc.

Yes, I hear it as a pastoral symphony-at the North Pole!  :D

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I don't believe it's accurate to say the HIP movement speeded up the tempos, but rather restored them to the composers original intentions after being slowed down by conductors who deliberately  dismissed the markings as inaccurate.  I'm sure that everyone here is familiar with the old "Karl got it wrong" story?  For those who don't remember it or  haven't heard it, for years and years it was believed that Karl von Beethoven, the conductor's nephew who worked as his uncle's scribe, consistantly misread the new metronomes that Beethoven used to note his tempos.  If you have ever seen a picture of the wind up metronomes of the type used by Beethoven you know that there is a weight on a pendulum, and the top of the weight shows the speed marking.  According to many, Karl Beethoven was a bit confused and read the (lower) wrong end of the marker for the speed, thus speeding up the tempos from what his uncle intended.  Later scholarship refuted this story, and the performance of Beethoven was correspondingly speeded up.  Problems still exist in the timings of the individual symphonies, especially the Ninth (Norrington's discussions of this are still controversial). 

Great story! I agree that the tempos weren't sped up, but rather restored to their original tempo. I was just saying that after listening to the others I mentioned it sounds sped up. Sorry I didn't make that clear. BTW, I haven't warmed to the very slow Furtwangler or Klemperer style, nor have I warmed to the fastest of the bunch. At the moment, I find Szell's tempos ot be just right for me. I'll continue to have as open mind as I can, however and I sure enjoyed what Tafelmusik did in these works, its just that they haven't displaced my favorites, that's all.  :)

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #61 on: April 11, 2007, 08:46:12 AM »
Well of course you are allowed your little transgression my friend, but in all fairness, I humbly disagree with you, and am not being irritated! :) by your deviation from the fact that Karajan rules, even in the sixties! ;D

There is always the exception that proves the rule.  I think Karajan's Pastoral is the exception, but I'm not sure what it proves except that he didn't enjoy that symphony as much as the others.

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #62 on: April 11, 2007, 09:05:03 AM »
Well maybe you could point out to me what the shortcoming is of the 6th symphony, for I find no fault. :)
But I listen almost 14 hours of music each day if I can help it! so maybe I just went deaf because of that! ;D

Try listening to a different Pastoral such as this Tafelmusik or Szell's or even Hogwood's.  For some reason this is a very difficult symphony for many conductors.  Harnoncourt slowed it down to the pace of a glacier, and made it boring.  Karajan used swift tempos, but for some reason he just didn't wish to acknowledge the truly lyrical side of the music.  The Pastoral is for me so emblematic of the first decades of the 19th century when the first "back to nature"  movement against the trend to industrialization begins.  Here Beethoven is actually becoming the bridge between the classical and the romantic future, even while trying to recall the purity of the pre-industrialized world. 

Harry

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #63 on: April 11, 2007, 10:02:52 AM »
Try listening to a different Pastoral such as this Tafelmusik or Szell's or even Hogwood's.  For some reason this is a very difficult symphony for many conductors.  Harnoncourt slowed it down to the pace of a glacier, and made it boring.  Karajan used swift tempos, but for some reason he just didn't wish to acknowledge the truly lyrical side of the music.  The Pastoral is for me so emblematic of the first decades of the 19th century when the first "back to nature"  movement against the trend to industrialization begins.  Here Beethoven is actually becoming the bridge between the classical and the romantic future, even while trying to recall the purity of the pre-industrialized world. 

I have almost all the Karajan cycles, and Gardiner, and Maazel, and Zinman, but these swift tempi you talk about are for me the right tempi, and I think it truly lyrical in the best sense of the word. If compared to the others, I think Karajan still warm blooded, lyrical and very lucid in this symphony.
Well it should be possible that I think this to be. I lived for almost 33 years with these interpretations, I mean the DGG Karajan, and still am mesmerized.

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #64 on: April 11, 2007, 04:18:55 PM »
I have almost all the Karajan cycles, and Gardiner, and Maazel, and Zinman, but these swift tempi you talk about are for me the right tempi, and I think it truly lyrical in the best sense of the word. If compared to the others, I think Karajan still warm blooded, lyrical and very lucid in this symphony.
Well it should be possible that I think this to be. I lived for almost 33 years with these interpretations, I mean the DGG Karajan, and still am mesmerized.

Harry, we have a saying in English, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"  If Karajan is pushing all the right buttons, then leave it at that.  If you ever get bored though, there are some others that we can recommend. ;)

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #65 on: April 12, 2007, 03:16:17 AM »
Try listening to a different Pastoral such as this Tafelmusik or Szell's or even Hogwood's.  For some reason this is a very difficult symphony for many conductors.  Harnoncourt slowed it down to the pace of a glacier, and made it boring.  Karajan used swift tempos, but for some reason he just didn't wish to acknowledge the truly lyrical side of the music.  The Pastoral is for me so emblematic of the first decades of the 19th century when the first "back to nature"  movement against the trend to industrialization begins.  Here Beethoven is actually becoming the bridge between the classical and the romantic future, even while trying to recall the purity of the pre-industrialized world. 

Do you have an opinion on Klemperer's 6th from the digital EMI cycle? IMO it's absolutely luminous. I generally don't enjoy this symphony as much as most of his others, but Klemp nailed it for me. I haven't heard the early Karajan, and given the consistently poor opinions I have been reading about it over the past few years, I'm not in a hurry...
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

George

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #66 on: April 12, 2007, 04:54:14 AM »
Do you have an opinion on Klemperer's 6th from the digital EMI cycle? IMO it's absolutely luminous. I generally don't enjoy this symphony as much as most of his others, but Klemp nailed it for me. I haven't heard the early Karajan, and given the consistently poor opinions I have been reading about it over the past few years, I'm not in a hurry...

Its definitely one worth missing.

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #67 on: April 12, 2007, 06:13:11 AM »
Do you have an opinion on Klemperer's 6th from the digital EMI cycle? IMO it's absolutely luminous.

I didn't know Klemperer lived long enough to record a digital Beethoven 6th.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #68 on: April 12, 2007, 06:30:07 AM »
I didn't know Klemperer lived long enough to record a digital Beethoven 6th.

Or that he was HIP... :)

8)
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #69 on: April 12, 2007, 07:18:25 AM »
I didn't know Klemperer lived long enough to record a digital Beethoven 6th.

Got digital and stereo mixed up, like usual -_-
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #70 on: April 12, 2007, 07:34:41 AM »
Do you have an opinion on Klemperer's 6th from the digital EMI cycle? IMO it's absolutely luminous. I generally don't enjoy this symphony as much as most of his others, but Klemp nailed it for me. I haven't heard the early Karajan, and given the consistently poor opinions I have been reading about it over the past few years, I'm not in a hurry...

I didn't know Klemperer lived long enough to record a digital Beethoven 6th.

Sorry, but I don't have any Klemp Beethoven anymore.  My dad had most of the Klemp Beethoven on LP but it's long gone; and like PerfectWagnerite I was unaware that he had even lived long enough to record a digital cycle.  I actually suspect that the cycle you must be referring to was actually ADD rather than DDD as Klemp died in 1971 and the first commercially practical digital recorder was not developed until the mid 1970s.

Or that he was HIP... :)

8)

If you go by what the Hurwitzer wrote (from the Amazon website) he was NOT HIP, but rather very old school.  Anyway, my Dad liked what he had, although he preferred Szell.

Amazon.com essential recording
Otto Klemperer's Beethoven is one of the towering achievements in the history of recordings. By today's standards, these performances are hopelessly old-fashioned: dark, heavy, and frequently very slow. But they are also the grandest, most unsentimental, most purposeful versions in the catalog. In addition, the relatively slow tempos (only in the fast movements--the slow ones are pretty swift) and forward wind balance permit more detail to be heard than in most original-instrument performances. At budget price and with the entire piano concerto cycle thrown in for good measure, this is greatness incarnate.
--David Hurwitz

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #71 on: April 12, 2007, 07:35:52 AM »
Got digital and stereo mixed up, like usual -_-

Sounds like one of my senior moments... ::)

Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #72 on: April 12, 2007, 09:45:00 AM »

So far, these are the complete piano concerto cycles I have:

Steven Lubin with Academy for Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood
Robert Levin with the Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique/J.E. Gardiner
Jos van Immerseel with Tafelmusik Orchestra/Bruno Weil (only available separately - no box set).

The Bruno Weil/Tafelmusik recording of the Piano concerto no. 5 (Emperor) also has the Violin concerto, Vera Beths on violin; and that is the only recording I know of of the violin concerto.

I also have the Arthur Schoonderwoerd/Ensemble Cristofori recording of the 4th and 5th Piano Concertos, which Schoonderwoerd conducts from the piano bench

Bunny, could you comment on the Immerseel/Weil cycle, and the Schoonderwoerd that got some raving reviews? Would it IYO worthwhile to piece the Immerseel cycle together?

Also could anyone comment on the violin concerto with Zehetmair and Brüggen?  :)




Last but not least, another personal HIP Beethoven recommendation:



Q

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #73 on: April 12, 2007, 11:37:27 AM »
Que, the Immerseel/Tafelmusik concertos are really one of the best sets I've heard, and they definitely are worth putting together if it can be done affordably.  The only set I would not bother with at this point in time is the Levin/Gardiner because it's gotten prohibitively expensive and the 4th concerto is done with a cadenza written by Levin which just doesn't appeal to me as much.  If budget is any concern, the Levin/Hogwood is really the best bang for the buck as it's been reissued by Decca in a very well priced box set.  Also, the Levin/Gardiner is the set that sounds most similar to modern recordings which is something that it shares in common with Gardiner's Beethoven symphony cycle.  However, please don't think that the Levin concertos do not have their merits.  If they were priced anywhere reasonably, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them as well even if they are not my first or second choice.

The Schoonderwoerd/Cristofori recording is really special.  It's not something for the faint of heart or anyone who is looking for BIG Beethoven.  It's sound is really different from anything I had ever heard before, but the sound quality is excellent.  Moreover, the fortepiano (Johann Fritz; Vienna 1805-1810) has a particularly melodious tone.  One of the things that I really love about that fortepiano is that although you don't precisely hear the action, you can hear how the hammers strike the strings especially in the upper registers perhaps because it's a Viennese action piano which means that the hammers are not underneath the strings. The reeds in particular really sound so clearly in this recording.  I must say that this is something that I needed time to live with before I could really appreciate it.  Now, ofcourse, I cannot recommend it strongly enough to those who are interested in HIP. 

For those who are interested, here is a link to an article by Robert Levin entitled Mozart and the Keyboard Culture of his Time. On page 9 Levin discusses the mechanics of the Viennese pianos which is very informative.

Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #74 on: April 12, 2007, 11:45:23 AM »
Que, the Immerseel/Tafelmusik concertos are really one of the best sets I've heard, and they definitely are worth putting together if it can be done affordably. 
(...)
The Schoonderwoerd/Cristofori recording is really special.  It's not something for the faint of heart or anyone who is looking for BIG Beethoven.  It's sound is really different from anything I had ever heard before, but the sound quality is excellent.  Moreover, the fortepiano (Johann Fritz; Vienna 1805-1810) has a particularly melodious tone.  One of the things that I really love about that fortepiano is that although you don't precisely hear the action, you can hear how the hammers strike the strings especially in the upper registers perhaps because it's a Viennese action piano which means that the hammers are not underneath the strings. The reeds in particular really sound so clearly in this recording.  I must say that this is something that I needed time to live with before I could really appreciate it.  Now, ofcourse, I cannot recommend it strongly enough to those who are interested in HIP. 

For those who are interested, here is a link to an article by Robert Levin entitled Mozart and the Keyboard Culture of his Time. On page 9 Levin discusses the mechanics of the Viennese pianos which is very informative.

I gues I'm going to spend too much, again.. ;D  ;D
Thanks very much, Bunny, for the helpful insights and the very interesting link! :)

Q

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #75 on: April 12, 2007, 11:46:08 AM »


Those are wonderful performances of the Beethoven music for cello and piano, however they are no longer in print and even if you can find them, the prices are sky-high!  Instead, the [urlhttp://www.hmv.co.uk/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=280;-1;-1;-1&sku=199245]Anner Bijlsma - 70 Years A Jubilee Edition[/url], available from HMV UK, that Harry was trying to find a while back includes these works at the bargain price of £14.99 (delivered in UK).  :)


Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #76 on: April 12, 2007, 11:47:24 AM »
I gues I'm going to spend too much, again.. ;D  ;D

Q

That is the story of my life! :o

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #77 on: April 13, 2007, 05:36:30 PM »
I just remembered another great Beethoven recording.  This is the one where Daniel Sepec is actually playing a violin that once belonged to Beethoven with Andreas Staier playing a fortepiano equipped with novelty effects.  It's a recording that is as much fun as it is beautiful.  ;D


Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #78 on: April 14, 2007, 10:30:55 AM »
Zig-Zag Territoires has announced  that that Immerseel's Beethoven cycle will be released in 2008:

This [Ravel Bolero] is the last project of Anima Eterna before the complete symphonies of Beethoven which will be released in 2008 ! As you can see on their concerts’ agenda, many Beethoven concerts are scheduled to prepare this big event. 

Strangely, this was in the information for the Ravel Bolero recording on the Zig-Zag website.  There is no other mention of it at all, anywhere.  It's certainly something to look forward to.

Bunny, I just saw this in Zig Zag's newsletter - Bulletin 2007:

Anima Eterna is recording the complete set of Beethoven’s Symphonies. Release of the box in April 2008.

Other interesting news:

Jos van Immerseel and Midori Seiler start the recording of the complete sonatas for violin & pianoforte of Beethoven. First release in September 2007.

Q

« Last Edit: April 14, 2007, 10:32:43 AM by Que »

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #79 on: April 14, 2007, 07:46:32 PM »
Bunny, I just saw this in Zig Zag's newsletter - Bulletin 2007:

Anima Eterna is recording the complete set of Beethoven’s Symphonies. Release of the box in April 2008.

Other interesting news:

Jos van Immerseel and Midori Seiler start the recording of the complete sonatas for violin & pianoforte of Beethoven. First release in September 2007.

Q



I have been trying to find a top quality HIP recording of the violin sonatas for quite a while!  I've been trying to track down a set of the Immerseel Schröder complete sonatas, but the best I could find was a single cd of the Kreutzer and Spring sonatas.

« Last Edit: April 14, 2007, 07:48:23 PM by Bunny »