53,454 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21 (1799-1800) [26:27]
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor Op. 67 (1807) [30:47]
Beethoven Orchester Bonn/Stefan Blunier
rec. 29-31 May 2012, Bonn

How wonderful it is to hear these two symphonies which have been so much part of my life over the years. My music teacher at school in Oxford in the late 1960s introduced us to Beethoven 1 in our music class. I was hooked, having previously only known the Pastoral, still my favourite. Right from the opening the thirty year old Beethoven is making a statement at the start of a new century. Heaven knows how many versions I’ve listened to, from the exciting Mengelberg through to Rattle, Most have been superb experiences. The only problem is that there are just so many - never too many - to chose from! With most available recordings over the past sixty years in good sound this newcomer faces fierce competition.
Stefan Blunier and his Beethoven Orchester were new to me. That said, several of their recordings have been reviewed on MWI and I read these accounts prior to listening to this disc. Their version of Number 1 is fine as it goes but some of the magic of this work was missing. The recording is also not as good as expected yet it was made only last year. Blunier seems to concentrate on detail rather than overall structure. Turning to Klemperer live in Vienna (review) and in moderate sound - which I got on the strength of my colleague John Quinn’s review - or Karajan in his 1962 cycle on DG the playing and the spirit was on a totally different level.
Blunier’s Beethoven 5 is a better performance and one which I enjoyed. The Bonn orchestra are certainly fine players and hearing them in the concert hall would be a joy. Disconcertingly Blunier doesn’t take the recapitulation in the final movement and that just sounds wrong here. For comparison I returned to Carlos Kleiber’s famous recording on DG and was struck by the power and sense of occasion. The sound too of the VPO from the 1970s is still excellent.
In the end even if the Beethoven market weren’t saturated it would be difficult to be very positive about this record. Even so, I was very pleased to hear this very good orchestra and these works again. The performances are fine as far as they go and at budget price would be worthy of a listen. Sadly, at full price they cannot be recommended.
David R Dunsmore