Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Savall
Alia Vox Heritage AVSA9916
Classical - Orchestral
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3; Coriolan Overture
Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall (conductor)
Review by John Broggio - April 9, 2016
It had to happen eventually: the first recording from Jordi Savall that can't be enthusiastically recommended & this is unfortunately it.
There's nothing wrong with Savall's conception of this work; indeed many of his tempo & balancing choices are not far removed from some of the leading (HIP) exponents of this composer. This approach definitely reveals the revolutionary aspects of the piece and actually makes it sound bold and searching.
However, there is equally no doubt that orchestras like ORR, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (and many others) have managed to produce far more attractive sounds than Savall's Le Concert des Nations. It's rather surprising, for this ensemble has given some truly wonderful accounts of music that is (at least) as virtuoso in approach as this Beethoven but they are clearly less familiar than they have proved in earlier parts of the orchestral repertoire. There is nothing that is markedly out of time (or out of tune) but the style of playing is what might charitably called "gruff".
However, even if this orchestra had turned in a performance on period instruments as refined as (say) Beethoven: Symphonies 3 & 8 - Paavo Järvi, the quality of the recording itself would make it hard for listeners to fully appreciate their work. Here, Savall's musicians are handicapped by being recorded in an acoustic that is both too resonant and very "hard" to the sounds they are making. The remastering into MCH does nothing to alleviate the limitations inherent in the stereo experience either.
Very frustrating and disappointing in the current form. Given a longer period of preparation for the orchestra and a better acoustic though, one can easily imagine Savall providing a very stimulating take on Beethoven's wonderful symphonic output that would be far easier to appreciate on a repeated basis.
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