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Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, Triple Concerto - Nikolitch, Hugh, Vogt, Haitink

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, Triple Concerto - Nikolitch, Hugh, Vogt, Haitink

LSO Live  LSO0578

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, Triple Concerto

Gordan Nikolitch (violin)
Tim Hugh (cello)
Lars Vogt (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink (conductor)


Beethoven was rarely explicit about any meaning behind his works. However it is impossible to listen to his Seventh Symphony without being captivated by a sense of euphoria, tainted only by what is possibly the most profound slow movement he was to write. Where the symphony is bold in its exuberance, the Triple Concerto is playful, providing its soloists with a glorious opportunity to flaunt their skills.

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Review by John Broggio - October 3, 2006

This is an account of the seventh symphony that puts Carlos Kleiber's famous VPO rendition (Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 7 - Kleiber if still available) completely in the shade. Throughout, the playing is more vital and, more importantly, the joy inherent in the music is so strong that one cannot stop beaming from ear to ear as the coda to the finale concludes.

As the illuminating notes from Lindsay Kemp mention, the Beethoven scholar David Wyn Jones suggests that a better summary than Wagner's "apotheosis of the dance" would be the "continuous, cumulative celebration of joy". This certainly is how Haitink projects the work, even in the second movement it is hard to escape the brightness of mood that is evoked both before and after. Before this, the grand opening is given a detailed but unified performance by the LSO with Haitink guiding them unerringly into a ebulliant Vivace. The climax to the movement is built upon some marvellously solid playing from the double basses who cannot be persuaded to move (far) from their low e's.

The Presto is very fleet of foot for the large forces (that are audibly so in the outer movements), especially in the trio where the woodwind are very songful. Around these episodes the woodwind and strings chirrup in exultation as Haitink encourages a very tight, light approach. The finale goes like the wind but with great weight from the strings and marvellous horn playing, there is no feeling of breathlessness. As in the first movement, the coda is built on a bass line that seems to be made out of steel; the close is exhilarating and as in the other discs to this most remarkable cycle I regret the lack of a spontaneous explosion of applause that must surely have greeted the performances.

The Triple Concerto is hardly less special and it must be counted as a version that is musically more cohesive than the famous Berlin recording on EMI. Lars Vogt constantly illuminates the structure of the piano writing, Gordan Nikolitch (who apart from being a leader of the LSO also directs one of the myriad chamber ensembles in the Netherlands, with a particularly good example being Britten: Frank Bridge Variations, Hartmann: Concerto Funebre, Bartok: Divertimento - Nikolic) is a sympathetic partner to both Vogt and Tim Hugh who responds with composed directness to Vogt's inspired playing. As in the symphonies, the LSO under Haitink play like gods and the balance between the protagonists and their accompaniment is highly successful - perhaps the very best I have heard.

The recording is a very good example of how the Barbican sounds; thus the sound is not ideally expansive which robs the orchestra of the last degree of tonal lustre but this is a world apart from the earlier LSO Live efforts and is really very enjoyable. In fact, one might argue that the acoustic is highly appropriate for Beethoven when performed on this scale.

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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