Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

British composers

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92 (1811-12) [40:35]
Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93 (1812) [25:22]
The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra/Jan Willem de Vriend
rec. 29-30 June 2010 (Symphony no.7) and 25-26 June 2008 (Symphony No.8), Muziekcentrum Enschede

Experience Classicsonline

This is volume 3 of Jan Willem de Vriendís complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies, of which volume 1 is reviewed here. I greatly enjoyed what this team did with the Beethoven Violin Concerto (see review), so needed no second bidding to investigate some of this new symphonic work.

The booklet notes are nicely written though somewhat subjective, and there is nothing about De Vriendís approach to interpreting Beethoven other than the rather coy final sentence, ďAs always, they delve into the depths of the symphonies and from these depths, they elevate themselves to a higher level... in their understanding of Ludwig van BeethovenĒ Come on people: thatís not content, thatís worthless column filler fluff. Left to the evidence of what we hear, I agree with John Sheppardís summary of these being ďessentially clean, well recorded performances, combining many aspects of the modern trend towards historically informed performance.Ē With their SACD recording as a potentially important selling point, they immediately run into an already complete cycle and one of my favourites, that with Osmo Vänskä on the BIS label (see review).

I donít dislike Jan Willem de Vriendís Beethoven at all. His Symphony No.7 has a spring and a drive which tops Vänskä for urgency in most of the faster movements, while not sounding over impetuous or rushed. The final Allegro con brio reaches fever pitch for example, and is remarkably exciting. The recorded balance is brighter on the whole, but this might have something to do with the string balance, which is a tad fuller and a good deal warmer from the BIS label, or is it the orchestra? My impression is that there is sometimes not quite enough weight in the string sound during tuttis with the NSO, or at least when the brass is in full flow. This is by no means always the case, but there are moments where the string counterweight to the brass interjections seems to struggle a little. See if you agree at 10:10 in the first movement of the Symphony No.7 where the melodic shape from the strings is actually quite hard to track. Intonation isnít always perfect either, and the little flute solo at 10:50 in the same movement sounds plain sharp. There is plenty of detail in the recording though, and no really substantial complaints on a technical level.

The character of the brass in the Symphony No.7 is rather special in this recording, with some nicely growling horns creating a sense of drama at numerous points. The period nature of the performance of course means little or no vibrato in the strings, so there will no doubt be comments about their thinness of sound. Iím rather used to this now, but itís worth bearing in mind if you have an allergy to this practice. The famous funereal Allegretto starts fairly urbanely but builds convincingly, and the timpani thwacks here and elsewhere are allowed free rein.

The pairing of the 7th and 8th symphonies is a good one, with the brooding and theatrical drama of the one contrasting with the frequently good natured sunlight of the other. Once again, this Symphony No.8 is very good, though while the lyrical touches in the winds are nicely phrased the legato from the strings is a little less clean. De Vriend moves everything along with a light touch and everyone at ease with his driving tempo and wide dynamics in the opening Allegro e vivace con brio. Timpani played with harder sticks tell in favour for De Vriend and against Vänskä here, whose fatter sounding drums rumble more like a storm in the background rather than being a real part of the ensemble, though that quiet ending is so tight from the Minnesota band it ends up having the last and best word. De Vriendís Allegretto scherzando is a bit Ďtwixt and between Ė neither really light and refined nor filled with the surprise and variety we have from Vänskä. His touch is also a mite heavy with the Tempo di Menuetto, coming from a baseline soft dynamic which isnít really that soft. Vänskä gets his players almost down to nothing where he wants; allowing plenty of space for dynamics without having to raise the roof each time thereís a forte. There are plenty of good things here though, and certainly enough testosterone-filled meatiness to go around if you like your Beethoven assertive and masculine. Funnily enough, after so many hard-driven fast movements it is in the finale of the Symphony No.8 that De Vriend eases his foot off the pedal just a little. This allows all those late Beethoven inner voices to speak with that much more clarity, which I rather enjoy. The little off-beat timpani strokes at 2:22 are a delight, and there is plenty of colour and texture to relish, as well as a fine feel of quasi-descriptive narrative in De Vriendís almost operatic response to this movement.

This is a fine recording and a brace of performances which has much to recommend it. There are one or two mild and mostly minor qualitative issues with the playing, and if you are looking for the most refined of Beethoven then Vänskä is still your man. Jan Willem de Vriend does have a way of making these symphonies sound fresh and exciting however, even a little dangerous Ė in a different and good way. These donít quite knock the best recommendations off the top, but as a SACD choice I would certainly choose De Vriend over the heavier Philippe Herreweghe (see review).

Dominy Clements












































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.