Egmont Overture; Romances Nos 1 & 2; Symphony No. 5
Mathilde Milwidsky (violin); National Symphony Orchestra/Rimma Sushanskaya
Guild GMCD 7826 60:10 mins
Recorded in October last year, this Beethoven disc from the National Symphony Orchestra is another marker of the composer’s 250th anniversary, offering repertoire standards – the Egmont Overture, the Symphony No. 5 and the Romances in G and F for Violin and Orchestra – under conductor Rimma Sushanskaya and young violinist Mathilde Milwidsky.
The rich-toned National Symphony Orchestra approaches the Egmont with some force, but the slow pace tends towards the ponderous and never quite convinces. Sushanskaya contains the orchestra, but there is little pent-up energy to colour it.
There are issues, too, with the sound, which includes somewhat intrusive breathing while the recording balance occasionally throws disparate sections of the orchestra into the fore- or background, particularly the brass, and sometimes quite harshly. It certainly doesn’t help Milwidsky’s fine and sweet-toned violin to emerge above the orchestra, which sounds curiously flat here, given the fundamental interweaving of orchestral and violin sound in the two Romances.
The Symphony No. 5 fares better, and has some engaging moments, but tends a little towards sound and fury rather than substance, despite building tension in the final movement, and again, there are some jarring discrepancies in the recording balance.
Sarah Urwin Jones