Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thielemann Doing Beethoven, I eat crow...

I hate to admit this....

(Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic. Hugely exciting, enormous sound, dangerously fast, extreme tempo changes, more a philosophical speculation of what Beethoven 5 can sound like than a mathematical proof of what it does sound like.)

This is fantastic Beethoven from Christian Thielemann. No surprise, this is Beethoven defiantly of the Old School. But few conductors, if any, have ever successfully channeled the Furtwangler style like this. Judging by the Beethoven 9 symphonies you can currently find Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic do on youtube, this is absolutely fantastic in so many ways. Though I wouldn't quite put this in the very first rank of Beethoven recordings. Thielemann is a bit more in love with the old style of Beethoven playing than the music itself, but this is still absolutely wonderful in its way.

(A very different Beethoven 5 from Thielemann's mentor, Herbert von Karajan. Ultra-disciplined, uncomfortably martial, still more enormous sound, but extremely fiery. Thielemann is Beethoven through the ears of Hegel, Karajan is Beethoven through the ears of Napoleon.)

It's all the more painful to admit, because while back, I wrote about Christian Thielemann in rather apocalyptic terms. I don't regret what I said. Christian Thielemann really is bad news for classical music, an infusion of reverence for tradition during a period when more reverence is the last thing classical music needs. But part of the reason he's so dangerous is because his performances really can be as great as people say.


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