Monday, August 13, 2007

CD REVIEW: Beethoven: Symphonies No. 4 & 7

The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Paavo Järvi RCA/BMG (original Japanese release: 23 May 2007; recorded 2004/5)

Advanced Review Magazine

CD Review by Kousei Moroishi

The Latest CD of the Beethoven Symphonies by Paavo Järvi and The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen with the Fourth and Seventh
In their interpretations of the nine Beethoven symphonies during several concerts in Japan last year, Paavo Järvi and The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen presented outstanding performances and offered audiences an exciting sensation. In the meantime, the first album with the Eighth and the Third ("Eroica") has received excellent reviews everywhere.
Now, after approximately one year, the enchanting team is back again. The second installment of their recording of all the Beethoven symphonies includes the Fourth and Seventh Symphonies. The marvelous listening experience of these two symphonies in concert last year is still very clear in my memory. The Fourth Symphony stimulated my mind, and during the Seventh Symphony I could almost have danced like crazy to the music in the background.
The Fourth, like the "Eroica," was recorded in August 2005; the production of the Seventh was based on two recordings from 2004 and 2006, testifying to the passion and the efforts of those involved to present the entire work in one long process. This new CD seems much more aggressive and radical than the first. Listeners should prepare themselves inwardly for the many exciting thrills that are evoked by the recording.
In the Fourth Symphony, in particular, the attention to structure and balance can be discerned. Moreover, this aggressive performance is especially shaped by Järvi's expressive spirit. All four movements seem like a single intensification and do not allow the listener to breathe deeply for a second. All the passion, dreams, drama, and yearning that seethed within Beethoven as he composed the work come out of this clear, straight line as vehemently as in a volcano.
It is actually a very daring performance; in the worst case, the whole thing could have fallen apart and lost all sense. Yet Järvi strictly controls the orchestra, and his conducting excites the listener but does not give the slightest impression that the interpretation is too exaggerated. At the same time, however, his extremely precise reading also shows a great deal of sensitivity, through which emotion is perceived much more profoundly. Furthermore, I am astonished at the mastery of all the individual musicians of The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. The Finale proved to be particularly marvelous; the playing was absolutely magical.
The Seventh Symphony makes even greater technical demands. Yet Järvi's strong solidarity with the orchestra forms a supporting backdrop and draws a passionate, almost fiery performance from it. Immediately after hearing the two symphonies, several thoughts crossed my mind, first of all, that a Beethoven symphony is a unique, extremely emotional world, and the act of listening in order to experience this world is a spiritual journey for the audience during which one risks his own life. After hearing this CD, you will probably – no, most definitely – not be able to listen to Beethoven performances by other musicians for a while …

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