Beethoven

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Overtures: The Consecration of the House; Creatures of Prometheus; Coriolan; Fidelio; Leonore No. 3; Egmont
PERFORMER: Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 88875 02232 2

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This rather short CD could have included the Leonore Overture No. 2. It makes an interesting comparison with No. 3, using the same material and following a lot of the same narration, but differing sufficiently to constitute a contrasting piece. In fact there would have been room for No. 1 too, clearly an unsatisfactory work, but interesting for that very reason. As it is, this assemblage of six overtures seems somewhat random.

The first, The Creatures of Prometheus, is rarely played these days as the tradition of beginning a concert with an overture has lapsed; it is wonderfully bracing early Beethoven, and something that Paavo Järvi and his Bremen musicians enjoy. As with their Beethoven symphonies series, Järvi adopts some historically informed practices, such as vibrato-less strings, but does not make a fetish of them. The main characteristic of these accounts is vigour of attack and rhythmic impulse, and that works well for the intense, self-contained dramas of the Egmont Overture and Coriolan, two of Beethoven’s greatest and most condensed middle period works. The last piece on the disc, the ceremonial The Consecration of the House, could be grander. It’s not the kind of occasional piece we associate with this composer, but in its dignity and even slight pomposity it has its own kind of impressiveness.

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Michael Tanner