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Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 8 - Haitink

Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 8 - Haitink

LSO Live  LSO0587

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernhard Haitink (conductor)


Coming between two of Beethoven's most famous symphonies the Fourth Symphony can seem a relatively lightweight and cheerful work. Written for Count Franz von Oppersdorff, who wanted a symphony similar in vein to the Second Symphony it is a brusque and enjoyable work. Beethoven's Eighth Symphony sees him in playful mood. Featuring humorous twists and turns and relatively brief movements, including the shortest movement of any of his symphonies, it is a lighthearted work.

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Review by John Broggio - September 22, 2006

Just as the other discs in the cycle have lain all before them, this is no exception but it is exceptional! The care that is taken over balance, tempo & phrasing cannot be exaggerated although there is to be no fear that this is a smoothed-over or moulded performance - on the contrary these symphonies are performed at what sounds like white heat.

After a superb build-up of tension in the introduction to the fourth symphony, Haitink lets the LSO loose with an incredible sense of joy. The double basses (especially) are clearly having an awful lot of fun with this score and all the accents that send our rhythmic scale slightly off balance. After an eloquent and refined Adagio, the Allegro vivace is exactly that and really dances away - one can hardly believe that such a large band can be so deft. And then the Finale completely takes ones breath away, such is the lightness of touch in the pianissimo passages. It is even more impressive when the quicksilver pace is considered - astonishingly fast but truly masterful playing that is fully at the service of Beethoven. Never have I heard such compelling dynamic contrasts before in this score. As so often in this cycle, the divided violins pay enormous dividends with clarifying the dizzying writing.

The eighth is no less successful with powerful playing that completely destroys the idea that this is somehow a "little" symphony. That said, after a lively and suitably weighty (although never dragging) first movement (without one or two of Vanska's felicitous touches it must be said), Haitink clearly imagines that Beethoven is looking backwards to Haydn in the Allegretto scherzando such is the delicacy of the opening. The Menuetto again has a nice "swing" to it although appropriately it is more stately than that of the fourth symphony. The Finale has incredible articulation from the strings where every sextuplet is heard (this is one case where the dryness of the Barbican actually aids a recording!) and the rest of the orchestra react with just as much passion and precision.

The sound is a vast improvement when compared to earlier LSO Live offerings and, given the electricity of the playing, will never detract in any serious way from any one's enjoyment of such utterly fabulous playing and conducting.

As with other releases, this is a compulsory purchase.

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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