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Beethoven: Symphonies 2 & 6 - Haitink

Beethoven: Symphonies 2 & 6 - Haitink

LSO Live  LSO0582

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Beethoven: Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral"

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink (conductor)


The 'Pastoral' symphony is one of Beethoven's most consistently popular works, evoking feelings of the natural world's beauty. The symphony embodies the spirit of the dawning Romantic era in its depiction of the countryside, and allowed Beethoven to express his love of nature and the outdoors. At the time of its completion, the Second Symphony was probably the longest yet composed. Written while he was coming to terms with the onset of deafness, it is surprisingly light hearted and cheerful.

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Review by John Broggio - October 3, 2006

Words of praise are beginning to fail me as this inexhaustable music works its magic once more under the baton of Haitink and the LSO. As in the other symphonies, Haitink's conception is completely of this time & one is tempted to say of all times.

As befits a piece that wears the title "Pastoral", the music making sounds entirely natural and at one with the world. Possibly the first piece of minimalism on show in the first movement gets entirely dedicated playing without a hint of self-concious "rusticity" - everything just *is*. The babbling brook of the second movement is a lyrical, almost Schubertian, song in the hands of the LSO where one can hear the rustle of the leaves and the birdsong as the water floats by on a glorious summers day.

The third part of the symphony (one can see here from where Mahler's structures have evolved) starts with a very merry dance sequence with the stomping of the villagers clearly suggested by the strong and purposely naive writing. In a flash, the mood changes as lightning and thunder roll through the valley and it is played with almost terrifying intensity here before the calm breaks out that concludes in becalmed euphoria. As before, the playing is completely natural in the best sense - there is no gilding nor mock-roughness, just simple honesty. Beautiful.

The second symphony is a very different piece and one might normally suppose that by following a more mature work that it would point to marked inferiority in the compositional strength. Not here - Haitink shows what a complete transformation the symphony has come through since Haydn & Mozart, even though Haydn's structures are very closely mimicked. The Eroica can be heard waiting to burst out of the Haydnesque clothing such is the strength of the playing and the ferocity with which every fortissimo is attacked. Tempi are lithe and the playing is quicksilver with no lack of weight - a truly incredible combination for which the LSO & Haitink cannot be praised highly enough. Just sample the finale to see how physically & emotionally exciting this music can be in a great performance like this one.

The sound is beautiful, yes even for the Barbican, and gives the LSO a wonderful sense of space and clarity although a little more lustre would have been even better.

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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