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Live in Ramallah
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Horn, KAnh.9 (297b)* [29:42]
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67 [31:35]
Speech by Daniel Barenboim. [4:34]
Encore Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Nimrod from Enigma Variations Op. 36 [4:06]
*Mohamed Saleh (oboe); Kinan Azmeh (clarinet); Mor Biron (bassoon); Sharon Polyak (horn)
West Eastern Divan Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim
rec. live, Cultural Palace, Ramallah, 21 August 2005. DDD
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 62791-2 [69:57]

I have already reviewed the marvellous DVD (Review) which is not only a film of the event but has a very interesting documentary on the background of the Orchestra and the concert. Does it work as a music CD?

Sinfonia Concertante

This is a charming piece from Mozartís early twenties. This piece seems to cause some experts concern over its authenticity. I suggest they listen to the music and tell me who other than Mozart would have composed such a marvellous piece? The soloists from the orchestra play splendidly and the orchestra is spirited under Barenboim: a man who has recorded two very good sets of the Piano Concertos and is a recognized Mozartian. This is old-fashioned Mozart and compares with the famous Philharmonia reading of 1953 featuring Dennis Brain and Karajan. This rendition isnít quite as good as that but I greatly enjoyed hearing the wonderful interplay between the soloists. This is certainly the best modern version Iíve heard and will be great in the car where the DVD player is left behind! The final movement is one of the happiest pieces I know.

Symphony No. 5
From what Iíve read the Beethoven Fifth has caused more controversy. His previous recording - in a budget set released last year - was described on BBC Radio 3 - rather along the lines of "Yes Ministerís" Jim Hacker - as "alright". This version is certainly more than "alright" - an inspirational performance of a masterpiece. But does it work as a record you may ask? Yes I think it does, in a way that Bernsteinís seminal "Choral" of 1989 from Berlin does. Each is a performance that bears repetition. Lovely playing in the adagio, swagger in the third movement and a dynamic finale. This is a great sounding recording with brass sounding out and this marvellous score set alight by these young players, going for broke in Gaza. A great Beethoven Fifth.
Iím glad they kept Barenboimís speech which is followed by Elgarís "Nimrod". A lovely rendition but I could have done without applause at the end.
The DVD is the thing to get, but for listening only, I recommend this CD highly.

David R Dunsmore


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