Beethoven CD review

A REWARDING BEETHOVEN MINI-CONCERT


BEETHOVEN: EGMONT OVERTURE, TWO ROMANCES, FIFTH SYMPHONY (Guild GMCD7826) ****

Though there are some who might accuse this CD of offering short measure at just an hour, it in fact manages to convey all the structure of a full symphony concert, with overture, concerto and symphony, and constitutes a deeply-felt homage to Beethoven in this year in which celebrations of the 250th anniversary of his birth have been so cruelly locked down.
Rimma Sushanskaya conducts the fine musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra on a disc amazingly set down during just one day, and released within two months. yet there is no feeling of rush -- in fact, sometimes the opposite, as Sushanskaya has the very Russian trait of savouring the moment, occasionally at the expense of onward sense of momentum.
This approach works very well for the opening of the Egmont Overture, appropriately weighty, but there are moments of stasis in the allegro when we should be moving forward.
There is a much stronger feeling of onward progression in the Fifth Symphony, not least in the perfect choice of tempo for the andante con moto second movement. The move from darkness to light between the scherzo and finale is subtly achieved.
It would have been good to have heard more of the shrilling piccolo in the finale, however, and textures in the resonant acoustic of London's Henry Wood Hall could have been more clearly balanced.
The "concerto" in this symphonic sandwich is in fact a pairing of Beethoven's two Romances for violin and orchestra, Mathilde Milwidsky the eloquent and elegant soloist, accompanied with much empathy by the NSO under Sushanskaya.
And what is so heartwarming here is the relationship between this young violinist and Sushanskaya, herself the last pupil of the great violinist David Oistrakh. There is a great rapport here, soloist not intimidated, conductor (and internationally-renowned violinist) not condescending.
Christopher Morley

Popular posts