Monday, August 27, 2007

The Rest Is Noise

August 13, 2007

Bremen town musicians

By Alex Ross

A discographic addendum to this week's Mostly Mozart and Lincoln Center Festival column. I mentioned Paul Lewis's Beethoven sonata cycle for Harmonia Mundi, the third volume of which is due shortly; it contains a mesmerizing, cobweb-dispelling rendition of, yes, the "Moonlight" Sonata. I might also have mentioned that Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, whose all-Beethoven concert at Mostly Mozart was an undisputed knockout, have launched a Beethoven cycle for RCA. The first disc, pairing the Third and the Eighth, preserves most of the virtues of the live experience: precise attacks, danceable rhythms, vivid phrasing, a grainy, gutsy sound quality from the musicians, no-nonsense tempos from Järvi. This is not a recording for those who wish to plumb the philosophical depths à la Furtwängler; it's earthy, propulsive musicmaking, Beethoven as pure physical specimen. I'd judged the Minnesota / Osmo Vänskä cycle on BIS to be the Beethoven cycle of our moment, but Järvi is set to give fierce competition. Missing, of course, is the joy of witnessing performances such as this in a responsive hall and with a responsive crowd.

No comments: