Pletnev: Beethoven - The Nine Symphonies (5 CD box set, APE)
Pletnev: Beethoven – The Nine Symphonies (5 CD box set, APE)

Performer: Matthias Goerne, Marina Tarasova, Angela Denoke, Endrik Wottrich
Orchestra: Russian National Orchestra
Conductor: Mikhail Pletnev
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 5 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 1.23 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

Disc: 1:Symphony No. 1 & 3
Disc: 2:Symphony No. 2 & 4
Disc: 3:Symphony No. 5 & 7
Disc: 4:Symphony No. 6 & 8
Disc: 5:Symphony No. 9

Disc: 1
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21

1. 1. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
2. 2. Andante cantabile con moto
3. 3. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
4. 4. Finale (Adagio – Allegro molto e vivace)

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (‘Eroica’), Op. 55
5. 1. Allegro con brio
6. 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
7. 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
8. 4. Finale (Allegro molto)

Disc: 2
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36

1. 1. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
2. 2. Larghetto
3. 3. Scherzo (Allegro)
4. 4. Allegro molto

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60
5. 1. Adagio – Allegro vivace
6. 2. Adagio
7. 3. Allegro vivace
8. 4. Allegro ma non troppo

Disc: 3
Symphony No. 5 in C minor (‘Fate’), Op. 67

1. 1. Allegro con brio
2. 2. Andante con moto
3. 3. Allegro
4. 4. Allegro

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
5. 1. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
6. 2. Allegretto
7. 3. Presto – Assai meno presto
8. 4. Allegro con brio

Also available:  Oistrakh: Bruch - Scottish Fantasy in E-flat major op.46, Hindemith - Violin Concerto (SACD DSF)

Disc: 4
Symphony No. 6 in F major (‘Pastoral’), Op. 68

1. 1. Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande: Allegro ma non troppo
2. 2. Szene am Bach: (Andante molto mosso)
3. 3. Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute (Allegro)
4. 4. Gewitter, Sturm (Allegro)
5. 5. Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare Gef?hle nach dem Sturm: Allegretto

Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
6. 1. Allegro vivace e con brio
7. 2. Allegretto scherzando
8. 3. Tempo di menuetto
9. 4. Allegro vivace

Disc: 5
Symphony No. 9 in D minor (‘Choral’), Op. 125

1. 1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
2. 2. Molto vivace
3. 3. Adagio molto e cantabile
4. 4. Presto – Allegro assai
5. 4. Presto – “O Freunde” – Allegro assai

A boldly eccentric Beethoven cycle–there’s nothing else like it

Russia doesn’t really have a Beethoven tradition that has made its mark on recordings, so this complete cycle of the nine symphonies from Pletnev and his Russian National Orch. is something of a milestone. Even Mravinsky, who showed flashes of inspiration as a Beethoven interpreter, gave us nothing close to a complete cycle. Yet no one could say that Pletnev’s style is “typcially Russian” or typically anything else. He has thrown caution to the winds, following any whim that occurs to him. Since he has an original musical soul, the results are strange and wonderful, and totally unpredictable.

I am giving Pletnev’s efforts five stars because the only alternative is to throw up my hands. There are times when the whole enterprise seems like an elaborate prank–witness the three different tempos that Pletnev applies to the first four bars of the Pastorale before deciding to race off at lightning speed, only to slam on the brakes thrity bars later. Balances are at times extremely different from the norm; there are sudden enormous slow downs, as in the Trio of the Eroica’s Scherzo; Pletnev flirts with the lightness of the period movement, only to wallow the next moment in a voluptuous romanticism that would have made Mengelberg blush (only the wayward, brilliant Dutch conductor can be offered as a parallel). By comparison, Bernstien seems like the village priest.

14 Comments

  1. Thanks a lot. This is one of the most interesting Beethoven cycles for quite some time and shouldn’t be missed.

  2. Many thanks! Looking forward to hearing this new set which has generated quite a bit of discusion!

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