One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


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

Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 (1802) [34:24]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 34 in C major, K338 (1780) with Minuet in C, K409 (1782) [25:12]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
The Firebird – Suite (1919) [20:23]
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Karl Böhm
rec. 11 August 1968, Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg
TESTAMENT SBT1510 [80:14]

The world doesn’t lack for live Böhm inscriptions – and seasoned collectors of the conductor may well roll their eyes at the sight of Beethoven’s Second Symphony and Mozart’s K338 on the bill – but repertoire new to his discography is a somewhat different matter. For this appearance at the 1968 Salzburg Festival, in which he directs the Berlin Philharmonic, the novelty is Stravinsky’s 1919 Firebird Suite.

One doesn’t associate a huge raft of major twentieth-century repertoire with Böhm, other than the obvious Strauss and Berg and other smaller pieces, but he did espouse Janáček’s Jenůfa and is known to have held Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex in the highest esteem. So it’s not too big a stretch to this largely reflective performance of The Firebird Suite. Böhm savours in particular the sweet lyricism of the Ronde and the vaporous atmosphere of the Berceuse, which is probably the interpretative high point of this reading. But it would be idle to suggest that he could have generated as much visceral tension as Igor Markevitch did, by common consent, when he directed The Rite of Spring at the festival in 1952. Altogether more clement, with rhythms that cosset rather than bite, Bohm’s approach is altogether more upholstered.

Which is not to underplay the executant superiority of the orchestra, of course. They show this quality to an even greater extent in the two canonic works that make up the remainder of the programme. The Beethoven is familiar from studio and other live inscriptions but it is splendidly pointed, rhythmically vital, and never forced or over-accented. The winds come through the balance well, and the ensemble sonority is altogether teakier than that habitually cultivated by Karajan. Effective contrasts in the slow movement are almost avuncular whilst the finale is notable for a degree of fieriness; there’s nothing sedate or complacent, and nothing Salzbourgeois about this reading.

For Mozart’s Symphony No.34, Böhm interpolated the Minuet and Trio, K409, as Mozart himself had done a few years after the three-movement symphony had been written. Böhm had already recorded it twice by this time, the last in 1966 in Berlin. Again, this buoyant and alert reading reflects high interpretative and executant standards, as well as abundant expressive sympathy. Neither this reading nor that of the Beethoven is, in any material way, inferior to the studio inscriptions.

Graced by fine Richard Osborne notes and excellent remastering – very little aural degradation, a tiny bit of high level hiss – this is an excellent example of Böhm on-the-wing in Salzburg.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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

Sample: See what you will get

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