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Beethoven: Symphonies, Nos. 5 & 6

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 18, 1994
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sym No.6 F, Op.68 'Pastoral': Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Sym No.6 F, Op.68 'Pastoral': Andante molto moto
  3. Sym No.6 F, Op.68 'Pastoral': Allegro
  4. Sym No.6 F, Op.68 'Pastoral': Allegro
  5. Sym No.6 F, Op.68 'Pastoral': Allegretto
  6. Sym No.5 in c, Op.67: Allegro con brio
  7. Sym No.5 in c, Op.67: Andante con moto
  8. Sym No.5 in c, Op.67: Allegro
  9. Sym No.5 in c, Op.67: Allegro


Product Details

  • Orchestra: NDR Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Gunter Wand
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (January 18, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000003FMH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,033 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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This is excellent Beethoven of the modern tradition; that is to say it belongs to the more straight forward approach coming down from Berlioz through Toscanini as opposed to the more romantic approach of Wagner. It deserves four stars unreservedly maybe a little more. These performances are not as brisk as Toscanini but neither are they at all sluggish. Only the first movement of number six seems significantly too slow, but far from fatally so it is undeniably beautiful. The timings of the movements of these symphonies are as follows: No. 6 I-12:58, II-12:14' III-5:49, IV-3:42,V-9:37. No. 5 I-7:39, II-9:55, III-5:24, 10:25. These performances are as solid as a rock serving as a reference of faithful Beethoven for those who would stray too far into interpretive eccentricities and "improvements" added through time. Of course Wand does adhere to certain sensible adjustments that have been made such the reassigning of parts to instruments in a few places where the score clearly suggests Beethoven chose
certain instruments over others because those of his time could
not typically play certain notes. However he seems to have avoided many changes that affected instrumental balance and caused a smoother more blended sound. For example the tympani in these recordings at first might seem to stand out a little too much and sound a little awkward. But I think Gunter Wand trusts that Beethoven knew what he was doing and what type of effects he wanted
The orchestral voices in certain places particularly in number five sound a bit atypical of a modern symphony recording, but it works. In general all the parts are heard fairly clearly, considering that this is a live recording that sounds a bit subdued and under defined especially in the bottom end.
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First of all, that you know: I am a complete musical amateur. What I 'know' of music is what I hear and maybe what I 'feel'. I can at most compare playing speeds and maybe impressions and 'moods' I have, when listening to certain recordings, and comparing them.

Well, what do I 'feel' here, with Günter Wand directing the NDR-Sinfonieorchester in Beethoven's Sixth and Fifth Symphonies? I would like to say: the same as with his conducting of Bruckner: complete honesty to the music without ever 'overdoing it' (But then again: I can't read music, so you must ultimately decide for yourself if I am right or wrong!) With what I have heard of Günter Wand's conducting (some Beethoven and some Bruckner), I have always had this feeling that he just wants you to forget any programmatic ideas or abstract (or even practical) conceptions or descriptions of what one is hearing being 'described' in the music, and take in the 'pure' music: forget the program, it is telling you nothing about the music AS SUCH! This might rob the Sixth Symphony of some of its charm, maybe, and the Sixth does sound a bit 'matter of factly' here. Or maybe I should say: 'understated', or maybe even a little 'undercharacterized' (?). Anyhow, the conducting is as secure as can be, resulting in a very cohesive argument without excess. But then again, the 'Thunder & Storm' does arive rather sudden indeed, and it is not too overwhelming (it doesn't 'rage' at all), which is good: it is nicely balanced with all of the other music as played here, and it doesn't stand out too much. This is a very 'tender' Sixth, to my ears, gently flowing. But the playing itself, helped by the clear vision of Günter Wand, is marvelous: finely disciplined and nicely rounded.
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