LSO/Haitink Beethoven Cycle (1)

0 of 5 stars

Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92
Concerto for piano, violin and cello in C, Op.56

Lars Vogt (piano)
Gordan Nikolitch (violin)
Tim Hugh (cello)

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink

Recorded in the Barbican Hall, London in November 2005 – on 16 & 17 [Symphony] and 26 & 27

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: June 2006
Duration: 75 minutes

This is an auspicious beginning to Bernard Haitink’s LSO Live Beethoven symphony cycle (his third such following traversals with the London Philharmonic and Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestras, both for Philips). One immediate impression is the excellence of the sound; close and vivid, with just enough space around the instruments, and a sense of immediacy that draws the listener into the music-making and which makes explicit Haitink’s use of antiphonal violins (unusual for him, but pertinent for the music) and the gruff underpinning of the left-positioned double basses.

If there is familiarity with which this account of the Seventh is unfolded, there is no contempt. To use current parlance, the LSO is ‘up for it’ with playing both seasoned and lively. Attention to rhythm (so important in this symphony) and detail is immaculate; a sense of joy inhabits the whole and there is much that sounds freshly discovered without being imposed or novel for its own sake. The first movement, slow introduction and allegro dovetailed to perfection, has a winning spontaneity and unforced spring (excellent timpani detail, as throughout) and if the march-strains of the Allegretto are rather too comfortable and smooth, the rest of the symphony has a bonhomie that is infectious. The finale, exhilarating and poised, closes the symphony on a high. All repeats are observed.

Good to find the Triple Concerto getting a look-in (it’s rather underrated, even disparaged, in some quarters), and this account has a spark and interaction that speaks of real conviction. Very good sound, too, with excellent balance between the ‘piano trio’ and the orchestra. After a stately if pulsating account of the Triple’s first movement, the slow movement has an inward sense of benediction, and the Polonaise finale has a breadth that is wholly convincing, Lars Vogt joining a select club of believing in Beethoven’s sustained pedalling in the ‘silences’ of the final bars.

A very rewarding issue.

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