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CD Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Symphony #7 in A Major, Op. 92
  • Symphony #8 in F Major, Op. 93
  • Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
  • Egmont - Entr'acte #2 (Larghetto) & Clarchens Tod *
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Felix Weingartner (1936-37)
* London Philharmonic Orchestra/Felix Weingartner (1938, London)
Naxos Historical 8.110862 73:32
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Contemporary/early; opera/chamber music – historical recordings bring an oasis of sanity and perspective into a 21st century listening whirligig. It is an abiding miracle that, alongside the deterioration of recent memory with age, one can rediscover from the recesses of the mind the sound and rhythmic detail of performances not heard since childhood, and recognise them as old friends. Without disparaging the new, one can thereby come full circle, to enormous satisfaction.

This Weingartner/VPO version, on blue label Columbia LX 78s, was how I got to know Beethoven 7. The 7th & 8th were heard in the same concert in 1814 and the pairing was a Weingartner speciality.

This #7 is simply, "right", and I dare say will outlive many of the latest stereo versions by the numerous modern contenders. Of course, listening to historic recordings means a little work by the listener (Mark Obert-Thorn has done most of it) but after a few moments with the scores one can relax into a mood of complete confidence and satisfaction. The detailed notes here by Ian Julier are wise and help to steer your appreciation of Weingartner's special authority.

Do spend your £4.99s, or $7.98s, on some of these Naxos Historicals, and enrich yourselves in every way.

Copyright © 2003, Peter Grahame Woolf