Wednesday, 19 November 2008

198. Ludwig Van Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 (1807)


Title: Symphonien Nos. 6 & 7
Performers: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Director: Carlos Kleiber
Year: 1974
Length: 33 minutes


In an alternate universe, where Symphonies are Mexican wrestlers, Beethoven's fifth and the ninth have the brightest masks and keep fighting it out for the title. It is hard to say which one is the best, it is almost impossible to say which one is coming more out of left-field, which is more original, but one thing we know... they are amazing.

The fifth starts with what is probably the most famous piece of classical music in the history of classical music... Ta-ta-ta-taaaa. See, you know it. If anything its fame takes away from the impact, which must have been nothing less than colossal.

If that was the only thing about the symphony it would still be one of the most easily recognisable pieces of music, but then that is not even my favourite movement. The slow movement is a thing of beauty, the first Allegro is bright and amazing but Beethoven has a talent of leaving the best bit to the end, and here the last movement is an allegro of unprecedented triumph and colour. It sounds astoundingly modern and exciting for every minute of it. An indispensable piece of music for anyone, and this recording is particularly good as it also contains a very recommendable version of the seventh... which I will review here later on.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

There was little critical response to the premiere performance, which took place under adverse conditions. The orchestra did not play well—with only one rehearsal before the concert—and at one point, following a mistake by one of the performers in the Choral Fantasy, Beethoven had to stop the music and start again.[6] The auditorium was extremely cold and the audience was exhausted by the length of the program. However, a year and a half later, another performance resulted in a rapturous review by E.T.A. Hoffmann in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung. He described the music with dramatic imagery:

Radiant beams shoot through the deep night of this region, and we become aware of gigantic shadows which, rocking back and forth, close in on us and destroy all within us except the pain of endless longing—a longing in which every pleasure that rose up amid jubilant tones sinks and succumbs. Only through this pain, which, while consuming but not destroying love, hope, and joy, tries to burst our breasts with a full-voiced general cry from all the passions, do we live on and are captivated beholders of the spirits.

Karajan, full symphony:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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