is an attractive little compilation that will interest Beethovenians
as well as fans of this under-rated conductor.
who has only heard Tennstedt's Mahler recordings may well expect
that his Beethoven to be characterised similarly by huge tempo
fluctuations and deeply personal, mercurial interpretation.
Not so. Tennstedt approaches Beethoven's scores with deep respect,
genuine affection and an eye for detail.
is a lightness of touch to Tennstedt's Pastoral, making for a performance of simple and unaffected joy. The scene
by the brook is taken at a near ideal tempo. Sunshine abounds.
It is not all light and easy, though. The storm crackles with
danger. Tempi are sprightly but not over quick. The playing
of the London Philharmonic is alert: no-one is on autopilot
here, and Tennstedt is smilingly meticulous in his attention
to detail. The woodwinds deserve special praise. Tennstedt,
like Klemperer, was always adept at bringing the woodwinds to
the fore, and his London Philharmonic pipers revel in the attention.
If there are smoother and creamier readings, there are few accounts
that are so involved and involving. This is a delightful, affectionate
recording, classical in feel, but in an old fashioned way.
eighth that follows is cut from similar interpretative cloth.
Tennstedt's approach is again classically poised, genial and
smiling. He hits the the first movement's off-beat accents with
emphasis rather than force, seeking not to shock but to tease.
The second movement is wonderfully Haydnesque, the third lyrical.
The finale is unbuttoned and exciting, but stops short of becoming
an all-out romp. The London Philharmonic again plays beautifully
and with grandeur. As with the sixth, this eighth may not blow
you away with its revolutionary spirit or energy, but it is
a performance to live with, a performance to love.
performance of the Eroica has an extra dimension. Certainly the symphony itself is bigger boned
and more revolutionary in spirit than either the sixth or the
eighth. Moreover, unlike its disc mates, this Eroica was recorded live, and Tennstedt's performance has a palpable sense
of occasion. Tennstedt's flowing tempo and the swelling of the
strings carry you along in the first movement, which starts
genially enough but soon sweeps you up in its drama. The crunching
dissonances, with horns and trumpets crying out, hit you like
a punch in the guts, just as they should. The funeral march
begins quietly, in sorrowful introversion, only to explode into
a wild expression of grief. Tennstedt's scherzo is gentle and
almost seems to belong the the world of peasant merry-making
depicted in the third movement of the Pastoral symphony. The final movement is
witty, merry and ultimately triumphant. The applause that follows
is well deserved, though I do wish it had been edited out.
recent Eroicas, Vänskä's carefully prepared and powerfully driven performance, coupled with
his equally compelling eighth, is a clear first choice for me.
As for Pastorals, Thomas Fey's semi-period performance
on Hänssler (HN98396) is as exciting as they come, and Haitink's recent LSO Live performance is well worth hearing too. But for an
old world view of these scores – a view completely unconcerned
with period performance practices – in digital stereo sound,
Tennstedt is your man.
overtures that fill out this two CD set, benefit from orchestral
playing that is sumptuous and full. The woodwinds, as ever with
Tennstedt, are fresh and characterful. These are stylish rather
than roof-raising renditions, and they none the worse for that.
The Creatures of Prometheus Overture sparkles with some wonderfully fleet fingered string playing. The
Coriolan Overture receives a darkly dramatic
performance. So too does the Egmont
Overture, with some majestic horn
playing and plenty of thick string tone. It does hang fire a
little in places, but it bursts into flame at the final allegro
has not remastered the original recordings for this reissue,
but the 1980s and early 1990s digital sound offers no cause
for complaint. David Nice's liner notes offer a useful evaluation
of Tennstedt's Beethoven performances as well as a little information
on the music itself. It was a little disconcerting to read them
after listening to the discs myself, as I found myself agreeing
with Mr Nice's glowing prose. But I do agree and it cannot be
helped. Klaus Tennstedt's Beethoven recordings are fresh, lively
and lovely. In a world awash with Beethoven recordings, there
may be more vigorous, exciting and novel performances to be
had. But for such a modest outlay, these performances are sure
to be a consistent source of enjoyment.