Sony's out of print item an expensive proposition
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 06/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Beethoven fans looking for period performances of the composer's two most magnificent concertos will not be disappointed even though they will pay an exhorbitant price for this now out of print CD. As they did in recordings of the Piano Concertos Nos. 1-4 on two other recordings, fortepianist Jos van Immerseel, Tafelmusik and Bruno Weil collaborate on a straightforward performance that is very well recorded. Unlike in his performance of the Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, Immerseel sticks to traditional cadenzas in the "Emporer" and does not lead listeners astray with his own imaginig of what it was like to play this in 1815.
Vera Beths' rendition of Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, also accompanied by Tafelmusik and Weil, is performed in a similar vein -- straightforward and without affectation including no egregrious speeds. Beths' violin is not wayward sounding and she is sympathetic to the composer's heroism and romance. Cellist Anner Bylsma, who partners in the trio with Immerseel and Beths, wrote her cadenza for this concerto. It too is in keeping with traditional style.
Like other performances by these artists, Tafelmusik comes off sounding a bit sour in tutti and, by contrast, tuneful and delightfully on key in solo passages. I assume the reason for this is tuning in the strings that gives the orchestra period pitch and strings that offer variably wiry sound. Fans of rich string sound won't like this, but they probably aren't looking for a period performance of this music anyway.
While the CDs of Immerseel performing the Piano Concertos 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 are still avialable for a relatively mild asking price, this CD has become more expensive in recent years. When I bought mine I couldn't find one available in USA and paid a premium in Europe for a used copy. I don't know if Sony plans to reissue these in either a set (which would be preferred) or individual CDs but none are available new today. There are thousands available worldwide but, as you can see the prices listed here are ascending. So if you're interested I suggest you get with it."
Vera Beths in the spotlight!
D. Gammelgard | Falun, Sweden | 01/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is truly wonderful to hear the Beethoven violin concerto played like this! Haven't we had enough of these performances where you hardly can tell whether it is a concerto by Brahms or Beethoven! Vera Beths is an extraordinary violinist with a great technique and musicality which also has been brought into the light by her superb recordings with the ensemble L'archibudelli."
Iconoclastic and strangely powerful recording
Steven Guy | Croydon, South Australia | 02/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this because I wanted a period instrument recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, which is one of my favourite concerti for any instrument. I wanted to hear an unsentimental and dynamic performance on period instruments without vibrato from the soloist. I couldn't find Monica Hugget's recording, so I settled for this one and was rewarded. Well, I got what I wanted and a whole lot more.
Tafelmusik is a Baroque chamber orchestra, based in Canada. Bruno Weil conducts them here, although the orchestra leader and musical director is Jeanne Lamon. They play on instruments here which wouldn't have been unfamiliar to Bach, Handel, Rameau or Mozart, yet they are playing what is commonly considered to be one of the first great Romanticist concertos. Tafelmusik plays with great surges of passion and boldness. Many, familiar with modern orchestras playing this music, may find the sound a little strange - here is a chamber orchestra playing for dear life! Yet this is probably what Beethoven wanted - he wanted to drive the musicians and their instruments to the absolute limits and then some!
We hear an 18th century orchestra fighting for life, and triumphing, in unchartered waters. The first movement of the violin concerto is a dizzying affair and here it sounds like the orchestra is living on the edge, too. Listen to the exposition of the first movement of the violin concerto - it is a sea of sound and melody, often choppy, sometimes brooding and a little dangerous.
Vera Beths on her Baroque violin is a very expressive and stylish interpreter. She summons all sorts of ideas and emotions from her violin, without the slightest trace of vibrato or soppy/sloppy sentimentality. In comparison to Viktoria Mullova, whose performance I admire a lot, Ms Beths seems to get much deeper into this work. Maybe I need to listen to both recordings after one another some time? I love Viktoria Mullova's bold recording, but Vera Beths takes me somewhere else
The Emperor concerto is here, too. Jos van Immerseel plats a Johann Nepomuk Tröndlin fortepiano from the early 19th century. Immerseel's performance is the most powerful interpretation I've yet heard of this work on a fortepiano (I also have recordings of this concerto by Tan, Lubin and Levin on fortepianos). I must say that I prefer the 3rd and 4th concertos by Beethoven. The 5th always strikes me as a little too "over-the-top" and grand. However, if you don't believe that Beethoven knew how to write for the pianos of his time or that pianos of Beethoven's time don't do his music justice, then listen to this!
I love this CD and I return to the Violin Concerto often.
If you want to know why people get so passionate and fired up about Beethoven's music, then look no further! Don't just stand there! What are you waiting for?! As with the Eroica Symphony, Beethoven tore up the rule book when he composed this work.