Monday, May 21, 2007

Abbado kicked my ass

Beethoven - Symphony No. 7 (Claudio Abbado, BPO, DG, 2000)
Fairly frequently, I decide it's time to go through the Beethoven symphonies. Usually, I start with No. 1 and march through them in order. This time I decided to rebel against my mild OCD and listen to one at random. I was thinking about something from Rattle's set but at the last second picked the No. 7 from Abbado's most recent cycle.

I'd been through the Abbado a few years ago. I remembered liking it at the time, but somewhat regretted the influence of the HIP-merchants on his approach. So I really wasn't prepared for the experience of returning to this recording.

The first movement went very well -- hearing the beginning of the exposition always makes me very glad I decided to listen to the Seventh. For the most part, the Allegretto made the impact it should. (One thing I've always loved about it is in the construction of the main theme - Beethoven hits that note and is in no hurry to move off it.)

The third movement is tricky to bring off. If it moves too slowly, one can (foolishly) regret that Beethoven repeats the Trio. (Karajan's 60s recording is a little slow on its feet here.) But Abbado takes it at quite a good clip. It is marked "Presto", after all.

The performance of the finale blew the doors off. Fast, but with more weight than someone like Gardiner. And the intensity just built as the movement went on. As it was getting to the end, I was convinced this was the greatest performance of this movement I've heard. After the final chords and a few seconds of silence, my wife just said "Well, that just kicked my ass. How about yours?"

1 comment:

Liz said...

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