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Beethoven as mechanised warfare, conductor and pianist in perfect accord.
on 18 March 2014
I have this memory that Thomas Beecham once described George Szell's conducting as "Music as Mechanised Warfare". I may be mistaken, perhaps he was describing something else, but, if I am not, and if these discs are anything to go by, he was right on the money!
If you got the score to any of these marvellous pieces and typed it all into the Sibelius software, then coupled it to the world's best computerised voice bank, the result would sound like these recordings.
It is impressive, efficient, accurate to the nth degree, but sterile and utterly lacking in beauty, imagination, humanity, or anything else that makes music life enhancing. Dismal and depressing. Fleisher doesn't help, brilliant and flash though he is.
I recently also bought the Haitink/Krebbers performance of the Beethoven violin concerto. A side by side comparison is illuminating. From the first bar the Amsterdam recording speaks, phrases are shaped, it is humane, beautiful, MUSICAL.
So, if you think, as I fear some people do, that Beethoven's principal characteristics are darkness, aggression and brutality then this might appeal. If Beethoven is a very great deal more than that; beautiful, lyrical, powerful, poetic, profound, - how long shall I make the list - then you are better off with Kempff, or Uchida, or John Lill, or Murray Perahia, or ... another long list.
This box is inexpensive.