Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 1

October 3, 2006 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: October 3, 2006
  • Label: LSO Live
  • Copyright: (c) 2006 London Symphony Orchestra Ltd
  • Total Length: 56:57
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #688,575 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This splendid CD contains two of the most memorable performances I have heard of either symphony - live or recorded - which were recorded by the LSO Live recording team during concerts held in late April 2006 at London's Barbican concert hall. They are also two of the swiftest interpretations I've heard of either symphony, but in a coupling I regard as quite unusual, since this CD opens with the titanic 5th symphony. Haitink's latest interpretation of the 5th Symphony is two minutes faster than Abbado's memorable Deutsche Grammophon recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and yet this isn't a rushed performance at all, but an intense, richly textured one replete with ample excellent playing from the strings, winds, brass and tympani (Purists may decry the fact that the well known opening notes of the 1st movement sound less like a ponderous declaration of an impending fate, and more like a brisk staccato announcement, but this, I believe, is an approach which Beethoven himself favored, and one presumably indicated by the late Jonathan Del Mar in his Barenreiter Edition score of this symphony.). Regardless, it is an outstanding recording not only for the superb playing by the London Symphony Orchestra, but it sounds like the best-balanced recording I've heard yet of this popular symphony. In Haitink's capable hands, Beethoven's 1st Symphony sounds less like a work firmly entrenched in the Classical milieu so firmly established by Beethoven's artistic mentors Haydn, and especially, Mozart, and more like one which carries the embryonic seeds of musical motifs which would find their full flowering in Beethoven's later symphonies, most notably the 3rd and 5th symphonies.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vikram Ramanathan VINE VOICE on December 5, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Haitink's reading of the 5th is sprightly, at a fast clip and is a very different take from all the other 5th's I have. Clean, sparse. tonally simple and clear timpani. String phrases are quick, clear cut, and straightforward. Woodwinds are tonally simple. I get a very period instruments feel. The orchestra feels more stripped than the modern orchestra; the dense modern orchestra sound is replaced by a lean & focused sound. The orchestral sound is clear, sparse, articulate, harmonically contained & sharp; clear and short notes. This is a fresh interpretation, full of zest and youthful spirit; does not linger on each note. Haitink's reading is such that the note is played quick and fast. In my Mind's eye - these are Quick fast straight and curved lines. Zippy, lean & focused. The acoustic spectrum on this recording is like a thin acoustic brush rather than a broad swath of sound. The reading of symphony 1 is also a class act. It is conducted with the right touch of juvenile naughtiness and frivilousness. After rummaging through my 7 cycles of Beethoven symphonies (Solti, Karajan, Cluytens, Szell, Bohm, Haitink, Muti) & Non full cycle compilations (Furtwangler, Giulini, Kleiber), I felt comfortable putting down the below as my top choices for the 5th that I keep returning to. Each of the below share the number one spot for me. I cannot pick a winner between them, they are all winners.

Bruno Walter/Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Sony
George Szell/Cleveland Orchestra/1963/Sony
Haitink/London Symphony Orchestra/2006
Kleiber/Vienna Philharmonic/1975-DG
Karl Bohm/Vienna Philharmonic/1975-DG
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 8, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Haitink's Beethoven has always been a known commodity -- traditional, impersonal, running to the bland side. For thirty years no one really noticed it, but suddnely a surprise. This speedy, lean Beethoven Fifth sounds much like the lean, speedy Fifths from Abbado and Rattle in 2000. Stripping away depth and meaning has become the fad, and Haitink leads the field, considering that his LSO Live recording sounds better than either Rattle or Abbado, neither of them well served by the engineers.

Everything flows pleasantly along without undue disturbance of the smooth surface (this applies to all three conductors), and although Beethoven's drastic metronome markings aren't adhered to, the pace is far from what Furtwangler or Klemperer knew as Beethoven. There's no thunder in the first movement of the Fifth, no mystery in the transition form the Scherzo to the finale, no heart-stopping ovation when the brass enters in the finale. So I guess everything is in place.

Haitink can't quite bring himself to jump in the water and deliver a period performance of the Sym. #1. He jogs right along, however -- no matter that the introduction to the first movement is makred Molto Adagio -- with a particularly quick dispatch of the slow movement. The LSO doesn't sound as alert as in other installments of this cycle, but they play nicely; you don't get the impression that Beethoven is being deliberately trivialized, which is good.

In all, this is a typical chapter in Haitink's new Beethoven from London, for better or worse. In all fairness, the British critics were very happy.
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Format: Audio CD
I've found Haitink's set of the Beethoven symphonies to be quite interesting, even though in some of the symphonies I think he misses the big picture. I guess it's as if though he gets so carried away by the beauty and charm that you end up missing some of the brilliance and symphonic structure.

Thankfully, there is little about Haitink's performance of the 1st symphony that I find disappointing. This is a young Beethoven that still has a lot of youthful vigor and a sense of freshness. Haitink's approach work wonderfully here; he's engaging and fun, allowing this symphony to come across unburdened. While Beethoven doesn't have his later maturity, there is something extremely catchy about his early works. Haitink obviously realizes this and gives an appropriately cheerful reading. I particularly enjoy that period aspects Haitink incorporates into this symphony; there is a Mozartian elegance here, but Haitink lets Beethoven's wit in as well.

Haitink's vision isn't quite as convincing in the 5th. I get the sense that he's still thinking early Beethoven--it's as if though he doesn't see how much structure and drama are encapsulated into this work. The ever-famous Allegro con brio, is exciting, to be sure, but it's in a very controlled way and not one that lets you hear much of the fate. The same can be said of the rest of the symphony. I'm not left kneeling at the feet of the world's great symphonist; instead, I'm noticing how much detail and beauty is in this work. And as much as I might miss the greatness of the work, it would be unfair to not point out how convincing the detail and beauty is. It's really quite phenomenal. For that reason, I'll be coming back to this rendition every so often. What's not to be questioned is Haitink's individuality.
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