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Symphonies 38-41 Import

2.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, December 23, 2002
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  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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18:21
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10:17
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3
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8:10
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4
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6:56
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5
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12:09
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6
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4:21
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7
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9:19
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Disc 2
1
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9:43
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2
30
6:43
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3
30
4:17
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4
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8:27
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5
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11:09
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6
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8:30
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7
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5:14
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8
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11:46
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 23, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Angel Records
  • ASIN: B00005RFSN
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,217 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Roger Norrington Store

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Format: Audio CD
These performances were first issued around 1990, and they reflected a new currency of thought on late eighteenth-century music. (Locally, the main exponent was the late musicologist and radio personality William Malloch,who did the liner notes for Charles Mackerras's Mozart series.) Using as evidence contemporary metronome markings and as well as mechanical devices of the time (musical clocks and music boxes), the advocates of the new/old style espoused three basic points:
1. Slow introductions would be taken as about the same tempo as the main allegro. The difference between the two would be in terms of emphasis: the strong accent would be on the half note in the "slow" introduction and on the quarter note in the main allegro.
2. Slow movements are more animated than tradition would allow; in particular an andante would be more of a walking tempo.
3. Minuets are fast, and played one beat to the measure. (As in, say, Schnabel's performance of Beethoven 0p.2 No.3) In fact, by this measure, Beethoven did not speed up the third movements, he slowed them down for greater weight.
Norrington's recordings of Mozart fit within this framework, with varying degree of success. The 39th and Jupiter are excellent; well paced and lovingly played. (Maybe too lovingly; there are moments when his care with the phrasing threatens to break up the flow of the music.) The Prague and the G-minor are a different kettle of fish altogether. For reasons that elude me, Norrington opts for an extreme legato, with the result that the notes seem to be glued together. The effect is most pronounced (and irritating) in the first movement of the Prague (the music is almost unrecognizable) and to a lessor degree the last two movements of the G-minor. What possessed him to play the music in this way is difficult to imagine; I can only hope that he now regards this as a failed experiment.
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Format: Audio CD
EMI is dead. Prior to its demise, new releases were rare and many of them were wretched 'crossovers' or 'the Forty Two Tenors'. While there's no doubting that EMI was caught up in the train-smash that afflicted the entire industry, in my mind, their decision back in the Eighties and Nineties to underwrite so many of Sir Roger's recordings was contributory. Red ink must have been voluminous.

It makes for sombre reading indeed to survey Norrington's EMI corpus (what a word) on Amazon: there's Berlioz, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Romantic Overtures, a ground-zero Bruckner 3, Wagner, Weber, Schumann, Brahms, Haydn and Beethoven. Most of them, the Beethoven aside, lack reviews and with good reason. Mindless iconoclasm, married to scrappy execution, was never going to reinvigorate the market for EMI. Meanwhile Naxos with a more astute business-plan was cranking up . . .

More fool me for having purchased this set. K 543, for instance, is the Abomination of Desolation. The slow introduction - one of the glories of Western Civilisation - is treated as hot-house adjunct to the opening movement. Emotion and grandeur are shunned in favour of pace - and mindlessly so. Insight on the conductor's part is negligible. The orchestral playing throughout is execrable. The G Minor, for all its madcap adherence to HIP principles, is devoid of punch and drama compared with Lenny.

All in all, these are the worst CDs in my entire collection. To bespeak nothing but note-spinning.

You can learn from my folly or ape it.
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