Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Beethoven, Boccherini, Heath|
CALL ME MISTER
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 03/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If the conductor's name seems vaguely familiar from somewhere, he was actually once prime minister of the United Kingdom. His experiences with us the electorate were not happy ones, but he has a secure place in history as the PM who took Britain into the European Union. Whatever one thought of him as a prime minister, he was unquestionably a musician of genuine accomplishment. Early in his premiership he tried to make us all aware of this side to him, appearing on television conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Widespread panic at the unfounded rumour that Harold Wilson was about to respond by dancing Swan Lake soon subsided.
I have no problem about awarding this disc 5 stars. Beethoven's triple concerto is a comparatively straightforward composition, and any account of it that goes about it in the straightforward and obvious way, and that shows the proper level of professional ability, has done everything than need or can be done. Tempi seem right to me in all three movements here, the soloists are exemplary in their comparatively undemanding parts, the ECO are predictably reliable, and the conductor does nothing untoward. There is a welcome bonus as well in the shape of a cello concerto by Boccherini, in which the very gifted Felix Schmidt, much admired by Menuhin, has more of the limelight on his unquestionable proficiency and quality, and which is a very agreeable piece of music to start with.
The recorded quality is perfectly satisfactory in the Beethoven, and even better than that in the Boccherini. The liner note is really quite good too, if just a little hectoring in its enthusiasm and anxiety that we get our minds right. I do not believe for one moment that Beethoven was a revolutionary composer, for instance. He was an outsize musical personality quite obviously, he was a considerable innovator quite certainly, and he was a personal figure of great colour and historical interest. A genuine musical revolution had been started by the far less picturesque Haydn, and Beethoven unquestionably carried the process much further. What with America and France, revolutions were in the air at the time, but if one wants to see a real artistic revolution the place to look would be England, where the Lord created a new thing on the earth with the poetry of Wordsworth, Beethoven's exact contemporary. I suspect also that note is slightly over-selling the triple concerto, although that is probably a good fault. For some reason Marion Scott's book on Beethoven, which ransacks the dictionary for platitudinous superlatives elsewhere, is most unjust to the work. Even Donald Francis Tovey, for whom the coming of Beethoven rivals the start of the Christian era in significance, is slightly on the defensive when discussing this piece. To me it is a fine, characteristic and thoroughly enjoyable and unproblematic composition, and I am hearing it here as I like it done.
This disc is a very safe bet, probably safer than the famous Karajan version with Richter, Rostropovich and Oistrakh in the solo parts, the genesis of which has been most entertainingly described for us by Richter himself. Best of all to my ears is one from Marlboro with Serkin, Jaime Laredo and Leslie Parnas and the Marlboro orchestra conducted by Schneider, notable for a superlative account of the slow movement. I'm not spotting it in the catalogues right now, but a Serkin centenary series is being cranked out gradually in Europe, so there's hope. I should also be more than interested to know what became of a version under Fuertwaengler, recorded in Edinburgh with Michelangeli as one of the soloists. I know about this from his widow's memoir of him, but what I've just said constitutes my entire knowledge of it from A to B.
The Mr Heath of 1988 is now Sir Edward, pushing 90 years of age and only recently retired from parliament. I never gave him my vote, so I take all the greater pleasure in commending this fine record to the musical public generally.
Today Sir Edward Heath took that journey
'illuc unde negant redire quemquam', in his 90th year.
R I P."