Triple Concerto in C major, Op. 56*; Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
Yo-Yo Ma (cello)*, Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin)*; West-Eastern Divan Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim
DG 483 8242 72:21 mins
‘His works probe deep into human emotions with an existential thrust that surmounts every obstacle that mankind has imposed.’ Dorothea Walchshäusl’s words in her booklet note sum up why Beethoven is such a special force among composers. And what makes these live recordings remarkable is their way of conveying that quality in the music. Listeners insistent on the pared-down performing style preferred by many of today’s artists may find the approach taken by this superstar line-up too broad and Olympian for their taste. Then again, it truly takes players in this league to perceive and then deliver the full immensity of Beethoven’s musical vision.
The Triple Concerto’s orchestral opening sets the standard, with every player palpably involved, and with Barenboim making every phrase and inner line come alive while not getting in the way himself. While all three soloists contribute on the expected level, Yo-Yo Ma’s extraordinary cello playing demands mentioning: he presents the slow movement’s main tune with a kind of keening, yet un-hectoring intensity that takes the ear straight to the music’s heart.
The orchestral response conjured by Barenboim in the Seventh Symphony transcends the extremity of the music’s obsessive-compulsive streak: instead of getting stuck in a rhythmic rut, the first movement sings and dances with a freedom that enthrals, and the finale is a tour de force of how to unleash thrilling power without bombast. Although the two performances were given in different venues (Berlin and Buenos Aires), the recorded sound in both is similarly warm, spacious and clear.