Wiener Symphoniker – Philippe Jordan conducts Beethoven’s Second & Seventh Symphonies

3 of 5 stars

Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92

Wiener Symphoniker
Philippe Jordan

Recorded 21 & 23 April 2017 in Goldener Saal, Musikverein, Vienna

Reviewed by: Antony Hodgson

Reviewed: November 2018
WS 015
Duration: 72 minutes



Philippe Jordan is very convincing in his choice of tempos – each movement sounds very comfortable. In his previous accounts of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies there is a tendency towards swiftness and No.2 also progresses purposefully; in particular the Larghetto presses forward eagerly, giving it a welcome lightness. When a slower speed is required, Jordan is very flexible and in the introductory Molto adagio there is a generous amount of rubato. In the succeeding Allegro molto however there is admirable regularity of pulse, expressiveness being achieved by swelling and fading of dynamics. There is plenty of drive throughout the Scherzo and Trio although some of the string figuration is lost especially when emerging from loud chords. Incidentally, both Scherzo repeats are observed in the da capo. There is also some lack of detail in the Finale. This performance does not seek to be weighty, but Beethoven’s strong requirements are represented by being widely contrasted with the quieter moments.

Despite admirable tempos for each movement, including a Toscanini-like rapid view of the Scherzo’s Trio on both of its appearances, I miss the essential element of grandeur in Symphony No.7. The important timpani parts vary in their impact – strong in the Poco sostenuto introduction, just right in the perfectly-paced Allegretto, but elsewhere they are only part of a warm timbre. Jordan has keen perception for the music’s structure, all repeats are made and nothing is done for effect and violins are properly antiphonal, although there is some imprecision and quiet string-playing can be close to inaudible, possibly caused by resonance or the sections being reduced in personnel. Nevertheless, the impression is of Beethoven being underplayed, although the latter part of the Finale is very exciting, timpani vivid.

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