on 3 May 2014
As a very long lover of the Beethoven symphonies, going back over 60 years, this DVD for pure enjoyment is the best ever for me.
My first recording was of course long play records in the fifties by the renowned Toscanini with - if my memory serves me, and most likely it doesn't! - the New York Symphony. His interpretation to say the least was brash and had pace, but was certainly exhilarating!
Then cam Klemperer (if I have spelt it right) the exact opposite who to say the least was ponderous, and whose interpretation I could not take to. I believe this was with a German orchestra.
My next set of the symphonies was the indomitable Karajan and the Philharmonia, first on Cd then lately on DVD, but the DVD was spoilt for me by the regimentation of the orchestra, and I have never been enamoured by an all-male musicians. The production was poor, seeing only very small sections of the orchestra and far too much of Karajan himself.
But already having Barenboim pieces, I purchased the Beethoven set, and was completely bound over. For me, the little idiosyncrasies that seem to bother some, have no meaning at all, I just go for the sheer enjoyment of the playing, and with a DVD the production, the playing is superb as is Barenboin's interpretation, by far the best. Mind you, recorded at the Proms the production had the might of the BBC behind it, and was faultless. Yes we saw the individual players, but much, much more of the orchestra, and larger section of it too, with Barenboin himself so much more of a performer than the rather staid Karajan.
Though I expect many will not agree, as I mentioned, the whole production for me is for the enjoyment, and these symphonies I enjoyed as never before, with the Westeaston Divan Orchestra a real mix of performers, who certainly were not restricted by that German regimentation, giving the works a fresh and enjoyable outlook.
on 25 May 2015
I bought this DVD having seen some of its contents on Youtube, and wanting a permanent record that wasn't dependent on that. My primary interest is in the West Eastern Divan Orchestra and cannot claim to know much about the technical excellence of the performances, or their defects. One review of the 9th Symphony concert recorded here described the WEDO as a 'mixed ability' orchestra and this is true, but the passion and care put into the performances are unmistakable. In the Choral Symphony the NYCGB puts in a wonderful performance, as do the soloists. But there are great pleasures here even in lesser known works like the 1st and 7th symphonies.