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Beethoven • MG Fischer: Symphony No. 6 (arr. chamber) etc

Parnassus Academy (MDG)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Beethoven • MG Fischer
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 (arr. MG Fischer); MG Fischer: Piano Quartet
Parnassus Academy
MDG MDG6032221   67:39 mins

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Michael Gotthard Fischer’s detailed and glowing review of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony appeared in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung on 17 January 1810 – barely more than 12 months after the work’s Viennese premiere. Fischer was himself a successful organist and composer, and before the year was out he had made his own arrangement of the Pastoral for what was then the unusual ensemble of a string sextet. The transcription is carried out with considerable skill, but inevitably it can’t convey the splendour of Beethoven’s orchestral tapestry, with its waves of sound repeated over and over again in different colours. The ‘Scene by the Brook’ suffers particularly in this respect (and its woodwind calls of nightingale, cuckoo and quail sound a good deal less evocative when played on strings), but the stamping rhythms of the peasants’ merrymaking and the drama and intensity of the storm also lose out in the chamber version. The members of the Parnassus Akademie throw themselves into the venture with commendable enthusiasm, but its historical and musical interests remain rather slight.

More compelling is Fischer’s own Piano Quartet Op. 6. The music perhaps verges on the sentimental at times, not least in the slow introduction to the opening movement, but it’s always deeply expressive, turning from major to minor at every opportunity. Particularly fine are the slow movement’s two minor-key episodes, and the elaborately ornamented reprises of its main theme. The Parnassus Akademie again acquits itself very well, with its pianist Johann Blanchard making a commanding contribution.

Misha Donat

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