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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Brilliant Classics

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 (1808) [37’11];
Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68, Pastoral (1808) [39’48].
Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt
Rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, 1977. ADD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS - CLASSIC COLLECTION 99868 [78’49]

 

Interesting that this disc should come along for review so soon after Sir Roger Norrington’s very different take on this core repertoire on Hänssler CD93.086 (see review). It would be hard to imagine two more contrasted approaches to the same basic text: Norrington intent on making the music seem new, whatever the cost; Blomstedt firmly in the accepted mould of the late 1970s, complete with large orchestra and safe, sometimes stolid, tempi (a conception ideally suited to the resonances of Dresden’s Lukaskirche, one could argue).

Blomstedt presents a very big-boned Beethoven, hardly fleet of foot. Everything is safe, reassuringly so, some might say. The present disc is available as part of a five-disc Brilliant Classics box of all nine symphonies (99927: see Neil Horner’s review), and on the present evidence I shall not be scampering out to the shops. Talking of scampering, the double-basses in the Trio of the Fifth’s third movement are remarkably well-behaved: I wish the same could be said of the recording engineer(s). The highlighting of string sections at this point and throughout the Trio is most off-putting. This trait is also noticeable in the finale, which does however finally manage to generate some excitement. Alas, the climactic coda is merely ‘neat’.

After a dull, rhythmically deficient first movement, the ‘Pastoral’ promises more in its ‘Szene am Bach’. This flows nicely along, blossoming out at all the right moments. Here perhaps he and Norrington are not too far away, whether in timing (Blomstedt 12’40; Norrington 11’32) or in intent.

However, Blomstedt does not capitalise on his newly-found intimacy with the Master. The third movement is unsmiling (neither are the horns the baying, off-the-leash hunting horns they can and should be). Blomstedt and Norrington both share a finale that sags (in Blomstedt’s case there is little or no sign of the sun coming out). The symphony, and the disc, ends like a damp squib. Definitely not recommended.

Colin Clarke

 



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