Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Ideale Audience
WORKS: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62; Symphony No. 4 in B flat, Op. 60; Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92
PERFORMER: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Vladimir Jurowski (Paris, 2010)
CATALOGUE NO: 3079298 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)

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On the back cover of the DVD version of this all-Beethoven concert there is a picture of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and conductor Vladimir Juroswki. It is the sort of view that audience members at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris in February 2010 will have had. Savour it. Moments where it is possible to get any sense of the orchestra as a whole, or even a substantial part of it, are few and far between.
 
Rather, there is an endless, erratic litany of close-ups, frequently ill-matched to the music.It is as if viewing the concert through the eyes of an easily distracted child flitting around the stage to gawp a little too closely at the musicians, yet repeatedly missing key moments. At the start of the Seventh Symphony’s Allegretto, the camera alights not on the horns playing the opening chord, but those behind still turning the page from the previous movement. This scattergun approach makes it hard to get any sense of the orchestral layout and to match these cubist fragments to what you hear. The sound is magnificent, especially in the Blu-ray version, but, high-definition or not, the pictures could often be of a different concert.
 
The performances are well-crafted, and the camerawork shows just enough for Jurowski fans of his well-choreographed conducting. Generally, though, this is best experienced with the screen switched off. A touch more punch in the Coriolan Overture would be welcome, and the home straight of the Seventh Symphony might have been driven even harder. Minor quibbles aside, it is worth hearing just for the wonderfully rasping horns in the Trio, and the especially beautiful account of Symphony No. 4. Christopher Dingle