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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
15
Live at Carnegie Hall: Beethoven Symphonies 5 & 7
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on August 20, 2017
wonderful rendition
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on September 6, 2016
Even as a recording of a live performance, and even given the advance of audio recording technology, this remains an outstanding album. Purchase as your first recording of Beethoven's 5th and 7th symphonies, or add it to your collection. Either way you will have two great performances of these symphonies.
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on April 19, 2013
This recording of two iconic Beethoven symphonies was unknown to me before I read the glowing reviews and listened to a sample. I am thrilled with the quality of this recording and how great it sounds on my Kindle Fire. These two symphonies are worth listening to just for the sheer joy of the beautiful music, so get yourself any highly recommended recording.
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on March 20, 2013
I have other recordings of these symphonies, including Gardiner's studio recordings. Others may be more technically perfect, but these live performances capture the excitement that you sense in a concert hall. Buy it for that alone.
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on August 6, 2013
Perhaps the most vibrant version of these symphonic standards that I've ever heard. It is as if I was hearing them for the first time.
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on March 31, 2014
great cd. best Beethoven 5th I've heard. good price. fast service. I have several versions of the 5th and 7th and this cd is the best.
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on January 12, 2013
I have many classical cd, so buying another one of recording I've got isn't something I do much. This is worth it -- bright, fresh, just a great new version of the best Beethoven has.
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on November 27, 2012
This sounds like a totally unedited live performance and it IS live in every sense of the word. It is blood coursing through your body when passions run high. Its concise, its exciting. I love the sound quality of the period instruments. You get the sense of listening to an old analog recording because of the warmth and balance, but its digital of course so the detail is all there-just a superior listening experience that makes you glad to be alive.
Conductor John Gardiner shows fantastic musicianship and keeps a vital, brisk pace, much faster than any recording I am familiar with (though now I'm going to seek out the earlier recordings of Gardiner with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique) and much less varnished so the pieces can breath. The instruments seem to be talking much more to each other, strings and brass are less isolated. I think what really comes out in these recordings is the punctuation that percussion provides while not being any more forward in the mix, and an earthier tone overall. It is like Beethoven is coming up to you and saying "THIS is what I MEANT!"
I've got a few recordings of these symphonies on vinyl, but even the tonal warmth of that medium doesn't quite match this release. I feel like I got a new set of ears for Christmas.
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Another disc combining Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh? - It hardly seems possible, doesn't it? And yet a friend urged me to get it. He had heard it live in Carnegie Hall a couple of years ago and if memory served, he assured me I wouldn't regret it. I protested that I already had so many versions and was happy with the likes of Reiner, Kleiber, Klemperer, and there's a new one from Dudamel which I haven't heard yet,etc...And anyway, wasn't this with Gardiner's antique instrument orchestra which makes all those screechy, funky sounds?....Well, he wore me down, - and believe it or not, AM I GLAD HE DID!

Folks, I'm going to make this brief. Let me assume you've heard these essential warhorses countless times before, even if not in this over-done coupling. However, you are almost certainly unlikely to have ever heard performances as exciting as these two! I mean when this disc concludes with the great C Minor, you are likely to jump out of your seats with such a roar of applause that your neighbors will ring your door bell to find out what's been going on!

IT'S SIMPLY THRILLING! Brilliantly played by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, led by John Eliot Gardiner, who has the players performing with the accuracy of the modern Chicago Symphony Orchestra, despite the difficulties presented to them by their early instruments, and with a passion of a Toscanini-like intensity.

In short, no matter how often you've heard and loved these great works, this is fabulous music making by great musicians at the top of their game. At the same time you'll hear Beethoven as you are unlikely to have heard him before. BUY IT.
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on January 10, 2013
I know there has been, and will always be, unease with the revisionist historically-sensitive versions of the core classical repertoire. The Beethoven symphonies are no exception. I am aware that people are unhappy with the zippy, dapper presentation of such hallowed, profound music. Despite this persistent unease I have loved the Gardiner cycle of Beethoven symphonies from the bottom of my heart ever since its first release in 1994. Though there have been many other Beethoven cycles in the past two decades I have seen that this holds up very well among cycles with historically sensitive traits. The good thing about Gardiner and the ORR is that they were "late pioneers" of this approach to Beethoven and had time to smooth out the rough edges of Hogwood, Norrington and Goodman's recorded performances (i.e. they were late in the learning curve among the pioneers). Yet they still sound perfectly musical to my ears, playing with stylistic accuracy and musical honesty, punching above their weight to sound beefy, yet about-turning for tender passages. In fact in recent years I have found myself liking the Gardiner cycle more and more because I have seen that the tempo choices of Gardiner and the ORR are occasionally slower than Beethoven's marked speeds, and Gardiner still allows the music to breathe despite keeping to the fast markings.

This new diptych of Beethoven's 5th and 7th symphonies was done during a live concert in Carnegie Hall in 2011, but only released recently from radio recordings on Gardiner's own Soli Deo Gloria label. It is wonderful to have the chance to hear how Gardiner sounds almost 20 years after he and the ORR did their DG Beethoven project. Gardiner may have gained in age but yet his approach is still the same. The ORR is more seasoned and the different sections interact better at a later stage in their existence.

To show two examples of the different character of these performances I would like to highlight the famous Fate motif that starts the Fifth and the opening slow introduction to the Seventh. The first statement of the Fifth Symphony motto does not charge in the same way as it did in the 1990s cycle, but yet the first movement is still propulsive and steady. I also notice that the trio in the Fifth scherzo sounds a little slower. Likewise Gardiner takes a slower speed for the introduction to the Seventh. By and large the basic approach to both symphonies is the same. You still get the propulsive speeds and the interplay between sections, and Gardiner brings out the essence of each symphony so well. On this disc I love the gains that are made in this outing of the Seventh. The second movement sounds more supple with the interaction between the players. And I also like the overwhelming release of energy that informs the finale of the Seventh this time round. This movement alone shows a marked gain compared to the 1990s cycle, which sounded a little cautious when they took the movement at Beethoven's marked speed. Somehow or other I like the Seventh more than the Fifth on this disc because it releases more energy, but Gardiner and the ORR are still excellent and on top form in this music.

I'm not saying that one recording is better than the other. Gardiner's approach is still consistent, except with more experience in this performance. The musicianship is still of an extremely high standard and the orchestra is still punchy with stronger timpani this timr round. And I also like the recording qualify that is achieved. The well-focused and immediate recording is closely balanced but not too much, and the listener feels like he's within the orchestra rather than in the audience stalls.

As my concluding words, I would say that this Gardiner Beethoven disc can be recommended on many different levels. Not only can these be excellent modern stand-alone performances of the symphonies, fit to stand alongside Karajan and Kleiber. They can also be an introduction to Gardiner's Beethoven cycle in its budget-priced reissue. And they can also give the Gardiner fan the chance to know how his music making has ripened through the years. As another example, SDG released his retake of the Brahms German Requiem and the Bach motets and they sound much more supple than his earlier versions. Admittedly it may be too much to hope that Gardiner and the ORR would do the remaining seven symphonies, but this disc is an excellent window into Gardiner's mature approach to Beethoven. And in this case this disc is a worthy complement to his 1990s Beethoven box.

As a concluding aside, I am hoping that Gardiner and the ORR will record a Mendelssohn project soon, after their wonderful work on Beethoven, Berlioz, Schumann and Brahms. I am hoping that Gardiner and the ORR will do the five Mendelssohn symphonies. I'm really hoping that they could start with a CD of the Scottish and Italian symphonies and the Hebrides overture. And I would be keen to hear their treatment of the Lobgesang symphony and even the complete version of the Midsummer Night's Dream. He has redone some of his earlier Polygram and Erato repertoire for the SDG label and I'm sure that he would gladly cover the Italian and Reformation with the ORR after his 1997 version with the Vienna Philharmonic.
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