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Beethoven : Symphonies Nos 4 & 7
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Beethoven : Symphonies Nos 4 & 7

Nikolaus Harnoncourt & Chamber Orchestra of Europe
3 April 2006 | Format: MP3

£2.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Also available in CD Format
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 25 Aug. 1992
  • Release Date: 3 April 2006
  • Label: Warner Classics International
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:14:43
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001F5VHVK
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,131 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9642cb4c) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9644c750) out of 5 stars Harnoncourt & Beethoven 30 Jan. 2011
By Erik North - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Of all the mainstream European conductors to have achieved world prominence in classical music during the last four decades, Nikolaus Harnoncourt may easily be one of the most controversial, primarily due to what some see as a somewhat eccentric conducting style and pacing, and the tendency, bought out by his background in the original instruments movement, to stick slavishly close to the tempos of a piece as the composer had written them. Just as many disagree with Harnoncourt's methods as those who agree with them, especially when it comes to the Viennese classical era embodied by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven. A case in point is this particular recording of Beethoven's 4th and 7th symphonies from the conductor's late 80s/early 90s Beethoven cycle for Teldec with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

What may surprise a lot of people is that, apart from nos. 5, 6, and 9, Beethoven's symphonies were not composed for exceptionally large orchestras--save for an added French horn in the "Eroica", the size of the orchestra is no larger than it ever was for Mozart or Haydn. It was the limits that Beethoven's music pushed the players to that makes them so formidable even today. This is true even in something so deceptively "retro" as the Fourth, which, like the first two symphonies, is proportionally similar to the Haydn/Mozart model. Harnoncourt recognizes this in the main, though there are two sections of his interpretation of this symphony that threw me sideways: the missing of one chord at the coda of the first movement, and the lack of a second horn at the coda of the Adagio. But at least his pacing of the work is what we're accustomed to, and not like he or the C.O.E. are rushing off to a fire sale, as I felt was the case with parts of Harnoncourt's Concertgebouw recordings of Mozart's 30th and Schubert's 2nd.

The Seventh, which Wagner rather accurately called the "apotheosis of the dance", is a work driven by motoric rhythms throughout all four movements, and both Harnoncourt and the C.O.E. handle this well, especially in the all-important Scherzo, although I do have to agree with another reviewer that the portentous Allegretto (which made two memorable cinematic appearances in 2009--KNOWING and THE KING'S SPEECH) is handled a bit too quietly. Again, however, in terms of pacing, Harnoncourt has things well in hand, with the reduced forces of the C.O.E. able to handle the imposing demands of a work driven like few others of the Classical period.

The performances themselves, which were done a little over twenty years ago (!), were recorded live in Graz, Austria, and have a lot of the intensity of a live performance, sans audience. And although these are not necessarily the kinds of interpretations that everyone will feel are suitable for these symphonies, they are at least close to what Beethoven may have had in mind without the excess fussiness that has been known to mar overt period-instrument performances. Even if Harnoncourt's conducting style is a bit on the bizarre side on occasion, the genius of Beethoven still shines through on this recording.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9644c7a4) out of 5 stars Excellent disc - I feel the other reviewers are being too critical 17 Feb. 2011
By jt52 - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Harnoncourt leads the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in lively and involved performances of two of Ludwig van's awesome symphonies, recorded live in 1990/1(audience noise is edited out). Although he uses a smaller string contingent than most previous recordings, I don't think there is anything truly nontraditional about the interpretations and at no point did I think Harnoncourt was doing anything I'd call "weird." What you have is a little bit more transparency in the orchestral texture and tempi that are active, although not hurried. The two other reviewers giving four stars are clearly very knowledgeable, but I'd say they are being overcritical and downgrading what is just a first-rate release.

Comparing this 4th with George Szell's ultraintense recording with the Clevelan Orchestra (on Sony Essential Classics), I found Harnoncourt to be less extreme while still providing vivid, engaging musicmaking and clearer textures. I had been struggling through some underwhelming 7th symphony recordings (not being a Carlos Kleiber fan) and latched on to this version. Like the 4th, it's a very fine rendition, aggressive without being bangy, and ends the journey for a superior all-around recording of the 7th. I found the Allegretto (track 6) to be a creative and very pleasurable approach, with much more of a build-up than is often taken. The orchestra playing throughout is just very good.

Finally, I'll point out that the recorded sound is first rate. Teldec's engineering department seems to have perfected digital recording techniques while others in the industry were frankly struggling, and this disc is state-of-the-art with detail and finesse. A recommended disc.
HASH(0x9644f108) out of 5 stars an excellent recording of a live performance 24 April 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Harnoncourt's Beethoven created a stir when it came out in the early 1990's, but it isn't much talked about now. I didn't buy the set -- just the disc with the Fourth and the Seventh, and I hadn't played them on my updated equipment. My response to doing so is that this is great stuff -- it has great rhythmic life, the phrasing is precise and focused, tempi are well chosen, and, with all that, the recorded sound is quite spectacular. I like that Harnoncourt doesn't try to homogenize the sound -- you hear the individual instruments and the instrumental groups in a way that lets you appreciate their texture, but at the same time there's no sense that the highlighting is artificial or that the orchestra isn't fully engaged as a whole. Both symphonies are played with terrific energy but no sense of undue haste. In the finale of the Seventh, Harnoncourt is quicker than even Zinman (a very good account too), and his recorded sound might even be better, The textural quality I mentioned is especially appealing in the Allegretto of the Seventh (very well paced too) and in the second and fourth movements of the Fourth. I really like Kleiber's Seventh, but listening to Harnoncourt it's possible to think that Kleiber foregrounds the brass too much, while Harnoncourt's textured account doesn't slight it, but lets us hear more. An enlivening recording!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9644cfa8) out of 5 stars An honest and revelatory account, but some flaws 14 Nov. 2002
By sphaerenklang - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Harnoncourt has a reputation for some strangely unorthodox interpretations of the classics, but this isn't one of those recordings that leaves you thinking "why did he do that?". The main difference from the days of Karajan and Klemperer is the clarity of texture: the strings, while audible, do not thickly dominate, and such things as the offbeat woodwind chords in the last movement of the 7th come through easily. The tempos are on the fast side, but not excessively so - suggesting athleticism rather than caffeine- or dogma-fuelled mania. Thankfully, swifter tempos and lighter timbres do not go hand in hand with undernourished tone or short-winded phrasing - Harnoncourt is not throwing the baby of melody out with the bathwater of portentousness. For example, in the slow movement of the 4th the dotted rhythms are lively almost to the point of perkiness, but the melody is a long-phrased legato cantabile. There is also force and power from the brass and timpani where it is needed, showing that Beethoven's climaxes don't need to be underpowered with a small orchestra.
The reservations I have are on the first and second movements of the 7th: as with 95% of conductors, Harnoncourt can't get the strings to keep the triple dotted rhythm "up" during the Vivace development section, and it ends up limping rather than bounding - the "little" notes should have been lighter. But I haven't heard a performance where this is done right - perhaps Toscanini? The theme of the famous A minor "slow" movement (actually Allegretto) is extremely quiet, virtually inaudible without adjusting the volume control - ppp rather than the p that Beethoven marked. This is the only disturbing idiosyncracy in a bracing and rewarding disc.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Randy Given - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is my favorite Beethoven Symphony series. Over the decades, I have listened to dozens of the series. I have purchased a handful of them. This is the set I keep coming back to. The interpretation is great. The precision is there. The recording is superb. Even the price is right. Not much more that I could ask for!
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