van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) CD 1 [71:41]
Symphony No.4 in B flat, op.60
(1806) [43:26] Symphony No.7 in A, op.92 (1812)
[37:15] CD 2 [75:09]
Symphony No.5 in C minor, op.67
(1807) [32:03] Symphony No.6 in F, Pastoral,
op.68 (1807) [43:06]
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Wolfgang Sawallisch rec. 14-15 November 1991 (op.60),
21–23 November 1991 (op.92), 11, 14-15 March 1991 (opp 67; 68).
EMI CLASSICS 5176592 [71:41 + 75:09]
I thoroughly enjoyed these performances!
view of the FourthSymphony is of a work of lighter
weight than its companion, which it is, and he knows exactly
how to balance the serious and the humorous. And this work
is full of humour, especially in its orchestration. The mock
heroic slow introduction to the first movement bursts out
into a truly joyous account of the allegro – complete with
exposition repeat – the orchestra enjoying itself unreservedly.
For the slow movement, Sawallisch hits exactly the right tempo
and gives the music more depth and feeling than many performances.
The minuet races along – try dancing a minuet at this speed!
– and the finale is full of fun.
Seventh Symphony seems a smaller performance by comparison.
I cannot explain this, but perhaps it’s because the Fourth
is so good. Having said that it’s a fine piece of work. As
with the Fourth, Sawallisch hits exactly the right tempo for
each movement and the outer movements truly dance along. Oddly,
Sawallisch doesn’t repeat the first movement exposition –
but he does in the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies - which is
a shame for the music never reappears in quite the same way
and it is helpful to hear it twice at the beginning to get
the outline of the music into our heads. OK. A small point
I admit and the performance is so fine that, in the long run,
it doesn’t matter too much. The slow movement is treated as
a true Allegretto and not as some kind of apology for
a funeral march.
Fifth Symphony starts in a very cool manner but in his conception
this allows Sawallisch to build the tension, gradually, right
to the end of the first movement. The slow movement sings
and the scherzo is full of mystery. The finale, shorn
of its exposition repeat, is resoundingly resplendent and
is a true victory parade.
to the Sixth Symphony. Sawallisch is as pictorial as you could
want. The first movement has a real open air quality about
it and there is some gorgeous woodwind playing in the second
movement – At the Brook. The peasants dance happily
and the storm, which isn’t as frightening as some might make
it, easily fits into Sawallisch’s scheme of things, moving
perfectly into the Thanksgiving Hymn at the end.
are fine, classical, performances, well thought out, well played
and very enjoyable. Sawallisch doesn’t reach the heights of Carlos
Kleiber in his magnificent performances of the Fifth and Seventh
Symphonies (Deutsche Grammophon 4474002), which is essential listening
and should be on every record shelf, but he does complement Kleiber
and give a different view of these works. The dynamic range of
the recording is wide and the sound is of the very finest EMI
has to offer.
Founding Editor Rob Barnett Senior Editor
John Quinn Seen & Heard Editor Emeritus Bill Kenny Editor in Chief
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