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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8

31 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 31 Oct 2006
  • Label: LSO Live
  • Copyright: 2006 London Symphony Orchestra Ltd
  • Total Length: 57:36
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001RPON8C
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 129,876 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mart TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2008
Format: Audio CD
The London Symphony Orchestra recorded a complete Beethoven symphony cycle at their resident Barbican theatre between 2005 and 2006, this CD representing symphonies 4 and 8.

There are three versions of this CD. This standard version, a hybrid multichannel SADC version, and a further SADC recording as part of the 6 CD complete symphony box set. All are of the same performance, recorded on the LSO Live label and combining digital recording methods with a `Live' venue (London's Barbican) to produce absolutely faultless versions of the works.

While I do appreciate the merits and historic importance of some of the many interpretations of Beethoven's symphonies, these LSO ones I think find their way to the top of the ever-increasing pile for several reasons - the recordings are of a stunningly clear quality, even better if played on a SACD player, and the performances are dramatic and enthusiastic but never succumbing to an over-personalised account by the conductor. Bernard Haitink does the job to perfection.

The sleeve notes provide the usual tracklist and times, plus a short analysis on each symphony, a brief biography of Haitink, and a full list of LSO orchestra members.

Of the three versions of this recording I would have to recommend the box set for sound quality, value and completeness, but any of the three provide a compelling and exciting interpretation of the symphonies.

An essential addition to any Beethoven collection.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Glorious Conclusion To The Best Beethoven Symphony Cycle Of Our Time 3 May 2007
By John Kwok - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Bernard Haitink's critically acclaimed LSO Live Beethoven symphony cycle ends on a strong note with this splendid hybrid SACD recording of Beethoven's 4th and 8th symphonies. Once more Haitink has used the Jonathan Del Mar-edited Barenreiter Edition scores, offering elegant, impressive interpretations of both symphonies. While Haitink does opt for swifter tempi, his interpretation of the 8th symphony may indeed be the swiftest I have heard, much faster than those from the likes of Abbado, and I believe, Zinman too in their own celebrated recordings using the same Barenreiter Edition score. In stark contrast to a previous customer reviewer, I must commend both Haitink and the London Symphony Orchestra for providing vibrant, exciting performances of these two symphonies. These are exciting performances in which Haitink has emphasized lighter orchestral textures and brisk tempi (though as I have hinted already, the tempi for the 4th symphony aren't nearly as fast as those from other recent recordings using the Barenreiter Edition: Abbado's and Zinman's), replete with refined, vibrant playing from the London Symphony Orchestra's strings, winds and brass (It's almost as if the orchestra was transformed suddenly into either the Wiener Philharmoniker or Staatskapelle Dresden, playing these scores from a Central European perspective; a perspective which I think Sir Colin Davis - the LSO's music director at the time of these LSO Live recordings - would be quite familiar with having made his own superb recordings of Beethoven's piano concertos (with Claudio Arrau as soloist) and symphonies for Philips back in the mid 1980s and early 1990s, conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden.). Anyone who has resisted the temptation of acquiring yet another Beethoven symphony cycle should seriously consider this latest one from Haitink and the London Symphony Orchestra for its superb sonic quality (especially in its Hybrid SACD format version) and Haitink's revelatory interpretations using the Barenreiter Edition scores.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Haitink's lean, zippy and clean style suits the the 4th and 8th perfectly 9 Dec 2011
By Vikram Ramanathan - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful rendition of the Beethoven's 4th & Beethoven's 8th. Except for the readings of the 2nd, 3rd and 6th, I love the cycle of Beethoven symphonies by Haitink\LSO (LSOLive series) under the LSO label. The orchestra in this 4th feels more wholesome and less leaner than in the other Haitink symphonies in this cycle. Haitink captures the lilting melodies spot on. There is power zest and cheerful force in the first movement of the 4th. There is distinct clarity and crispness even in the pianissimo string passages. The last movement of the 4th is played with great virtuosity by the orchestra. The 8th symphony is played with exuberance and zest. This is probably the best CD in Haitink's Beethoven cycle. Haitink's lean, zippy and clean style suits the the 4th and 8th perfectly. This is overall an excellent 5 star CD. You will not regret the purchase.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This disc is actually a gem--the best thing in Haitink's cycle 28 Sep 2011
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on
Haitink's Beethoven symphonies set with the LSO is one that I have found fascinating, and it never ceases to interest me. That's not to say that it is perfect, as there are things about it that keep it from being entirely successful, but nonetheless, Haitink's approach is always interesting, always fresh. My biggest complaint with it was that it didn't touch much on Beethoven's masculine side, and Beethoven's unrivaled symphonic genius was never fulfilled. This is mainly a concern in the odd numbered symphonies, where Beethoven shows off his structural mastery more than in the even numbered ones. Haitink's approach, with its sensitivity and sense of humor works wonderfully in the 4th and 8th symphonies that are on this disc. I still think Haitink could have given us more of Beethoven's structural genius, but what he does say is so musical that it's tough to say much bad about it.

I won't go into too much more detail, but I should point out a few things about how Haitink achieves what he does. First of all, Haitink's underlying view of the works is not one of frightening power but rather of cheerfulness and wit. You'll realize the potential these works have to be disarmingly tuneful. It could be argued that this is the whole point of these works, as the power in the odd numbered symphonies far surpasses these. Either way, Haitink carries through with his argument, and he's convincing almost from beginning to end in both the 4th and 8th symphonies. Both are good, but I'll have to give the nod to the performance of the 8th, where Haitink's freshness is particularly refreshing. Haitink's period awareness is present and the music is complete with fine articulation. You certainly won't be able to sit still as Haitink delves into the music, pulling out plenty of fun. I can't listen to it without wanting to smile.

In closing, even if Haitink's complete set has things lacking, this disc is the very best of his efforts, and there's no reason that you shouldn't check it out.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Haitink caps his live Beethoven cycle with a strong installment 20 Jan 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It's admirable that the LSO was able to record and finance a complete Beethoven symphony cycle. They bypassed their chief conductor, Colin Davis (never known as a Beethoven conductor), for Bernard Haitink, who doesn't have a strong affinity for the Beethoven symphonies, either, and despite rave notices from British critics, the results have disappointed me. Like Abbado and Rattle before him, Haitink has tried to rethink tempos and textures in line with period practice, and no doubt also keeping in mind the zippy, superficial Zinman cycle from Zurich that astonished the music business by selling over a million units.

That said, his Sym. #4 and #8 sound completely traditional to me, except for fairly speedy slow movements (in the Fourth Haitink ignores the composer's marking of Adagio for a flowing Andante, but lots of modern conductors do the same). Accents are punchier at times; Orchetral balances are very good; so is the recorded sound. Everntyhing is in place for an excellent outcome, yet somehow I feel that Haitink isn't inspired by this music. There's plenty of energy on the surface without a great deal of vibrancy or inner vitality.

I'm perfeclty hapy to be disagreed with becasue this is the best installment in his cycle, and thanks to the warmth of the performances, I prefer them over Szell, whose readings are a cooler version of the same style. If you want to test the waters before buying the entire Haitink set, here's a good place to begin.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"I Have Come to Suck the Blood out of these Works" 4 Oct 2011
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Haitink had every reason to enliven his Beethoven; after all, his Concertgebouw cycle from the `80s had been soporific. But surely other expediencies were preferable than baring his neck to Count Dracula von Hogwood.

Sure, the pathogens are less evident than with poor old Abbado but they are present all the same: observe the clipped phrasing throughout the Fourth and the `flowing speed' for its slow movement. And above all, there is the failure to engage with the grandeur of each work: they might as well be divertimenti by Beethoven. The timpani and brass add surface excitement to what is otherwise a placid performance from the orchestra.

In terms of the Fourth, Old Klemp, whose intransigence was cut from the same cloth as Beethoven`s - firmly puts this middling performance in its place Symphony 4 & 7. Just compare the chords that conclude the scherzo: one is perfumery (and watery at that), the other is truth. Karajan's last performance of the Eighth is Olympian in its aspirations Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 / Overtures: Fidelio, Leonore III, Coriolan but if you prefer to skip around the foothills, perhaps there is some merit in Haitink's `meek and mild' Eighth.

Like so many of these in-house productions, it is a good concert. Applause is warranted - but not memory.
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