Isabelle Faust and the Berlin Philharmonic perform Beethoven

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COMPOSERS: Ludwig van Beethoven
LABELS: EuroArts
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 6
PERFORMER: Isabelle Faust (violin); Berlin Philharmonic/Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: EuroArts DVD: 2061298; Blu-ray: 2061294


This concert, filmed last year in the Festspielhaus of Baden-Baden, finds the Berlin Philharmonic and Bernard Haitink on top form. Isabelle Faust makes light of the technical difficulties of Beethoven’s sometimes awkwardly-written Violin Concerto. The quiet warmth of her playing, particularly in such moments as the mysterious ending to the first stage of the opening movement, and the new theme that so unexpectedly emerges at the mid-point of the slow movement, is a constant pleasure.

Haitink gives a finely judged account of the Pastoral Symphony. The slow movement’s brook flows at just the right tempo – this is a piece that can often sound too slow and heavy – and the bird songs of its closing moments are handled with appropriate freedom. The only slight miscalculation is the coda of the peasants’ merrymaking, where Haitink fails to provide the surge in tempo designed to increase the dramatic effect of the music’s sudden interruption by the distant rumble of thunder. But it’s hard not to enjoy these performances, and the sound, particularly on the Blu-ray version, is first-rate. The presentation is strictly bare bones: no filmed interviews, and nothing more than a leaflet listing movements, and giving technical credits. There’s not even information about the cadenzas, which are adaptations of the ones Beethoven wrote for his piano arrangement of the Concerto.


Misha Donat