Bernstein: Beethoven - The Amnesty International Concert, Symphonies no.7, 9, Missa solemnis (6 CD box set, FLAC)
Bernstein: Beethoven – The Amnesty International Concert, Symphonies no.7, 9, Missa solemnis (6 CD box set, FLAC)

Audio CD
SPARS Code: ADD
Number of Discs: 6 CD box set
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 1.89 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

CD 01
01. Overture ‘Leonore III’, op.72a
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

Piano Concerto No.4 in G major, op.58
02. I. Allegro moderato
03. II. Andante con moto
04. III. Rondo. Vivace

Claudio Arrau, piano
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

CD 02
Symphony No.5 in C minor, op.67
01. I. Allegro con brio
02. II. Andante con moto
03. III. Allegro
04. IV. Allegro
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

Symphony No.7 in A major, op.92
05. I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
06. II. Allegretto
07. III. Presto – Assai meno presto
08. IV. Allegro con brio
Boston Symphony Orchestra

CD 03
01. Overture to the Ballet ‘The Creatures of Prometheus’, op.43
02. Overture ‘Egmont’, op.84
03. Overture ‘Coriolan’, op.62
04. Overture ‘King Stephen’, op.117
05. Overture ‘Fidelio’, op.72b
06. Overture ‘Leonore III’, op.72a
Wiener Philharmoniker

CD 04
String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op.131 (Arr. Dimitri Mitropoulos)
01. I. Adagio, ma non troppo e molto espressivo
02. II. Allegretto
03. III. Allegro moderato – attacca
04. IV. Andante, ma non troppo e molto cantabile –
05. v. Presto – Molto poco adagio -attacca
06. VI. Adagio quasi un poco andante – attacca
07. VII. Allegro

String Quartet in F major, Op.135 (version for string orchestra)
08. I. Allegretto
09. II. Vivace
10. III. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo
11. IV. Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß (Grave – Allegro – Grave ma non troppo tratto – Allegro)
Wiener Philharmoniker

CD 05
Mass in D, Op.123 “Missa Solemnis”
01. I. Kyrie: Kyrie eleison
02. I. Kyrie: Christe eleison
03. I. Kyrie: Kyrie eleison
04. II. Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo
05. II. Gloria: Qui tollis peccata mundi
06. II. Gloria: Quoniam tu solus sanctus
07. II. Gloria: In gloria Dei Patris, Amen
08. II. Gloria: Amen – Quoniam tu solus sanctus
09. III. Credo: Credo in unum Deum
10. III. Credo: Et incarnatus est
11. III. Credo: Et ascendit in coelum
12. III. Credo: Et vitam venturi saeculi
13. III. Credo: Amen
14. VI. Sanctus: Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth
15. VI. Sanctus: Pleni sunt coeli
16. VI. Sanctus: Praeludium
17. VI. Sanctus: Benedictus
18. V. Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei
19. V. Agnus Dei: Dona nobis pacem
20. V. Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei
21. V. Agnus Dei: Presto
Edda Moser, Soprano
Hanna Schwarz, Contralto
René Kollo, Tenor
Kurt Moll, Bass

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Bernard Bartelink, Organ
Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation Chorus, Hilversum
Meindert Boekel, Chorus Master

CD 06
Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 ‘Choral’
01. I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
02. II. Molto vivace
03. III. Adagio molto e cantabile
04. IV. Presto – Allegro assai
June Anderson, Soprano
Sarah Walker, Mezzo-Soprano
Klaus König, Tenor
Jan-Hendrik Rootering, Bass

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Members of the Staatskapelle Dresden
Members of the Kirov Orchestra, Leningrad
Members Of The London Symphony Orchestra
Members Of The New York Philharmonic
Members of the Orchestre de Paris

The CD debut of a 1976 concert is the highlight here

Long-time collectors will be attracted to this bargain Beethoven box by the previously unreleased Amnesty International concert from 1976. Bernstein was a supporter of Amnesty International from its founding, and here he conducts the Bavarian Radio Sym. Orch. in the Leonore Over. #, Sym. #5, and the Fourth Piano Concerto with Claudio Arrau. I wish I could say that the performances are a revelation, but in reality they are a fairly ponderous imitation of LB’s heroic, robust Beethoven from the 1960a in New York. Did he consider such weightiness appropriate because of the earnest moral cause?

One amazing eccentricity predominates in the first movement of the Fifth Sym., when the conductor indulges in a huge unmarked ritard in the development section — the music all but halts despite the Allegro con brio marking. Textures are heavy throughout, and Bernstein’s attention to detail seems wayward and fussy at times. I say this regretfully as a huge admirer. The Fourth Concerto proceeds a bit at odds, with Bernstein showing signs of energy but being relentlessly held back by Arrau’s tedious, studied pianism.

The rest of the set consists of previously released material: a moving Sym. #7 with the BSO at Tanglewood, his last public concert, issued as a memorial after Bernstein died; the famous Ninth Sym. performed at the sight of the demolished Berlin Wall; orchestral arrangements of Quartets Op. 131 and 135; the complete overtures that served as fill-ups for the Beethoven symphony cycle form Vienna; and the Missa Solemnis. Adding this material to DG’s already issued complete symphonies and you have all of Bernstein’s Beethoven recorded for that label.

I am of mixed mind about the overall quality and whether a buyer should amass every single note of BL’s Beethoven, but nothing here is less than interesting. To me, the Missa Solemnis is wonderful, along with the BSO Seventh. The Vienna overtures are good enough but not inspired, while the Ninth Sym. from Berlin shows signs of indulgent excess now that the excitement of the event has faded. In the end, the attraction of the unreleased Amnesty International concert doesn’t quite outweigh the drawbacks.

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