Monday, 24 November 2008

200. Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony no. 6, "Pastoral" (1808)


Title: Decca Recordings 1949-1955
Performers: Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra
Director: Erich Kleiber
Year: 1953
Length: 41 minutes


Of all Beethoven Symphonies if you had to file one under easy-listening this would be the one. It is remarkably cheery and positive in outlook, not nearly as challenging as the fifth and in fact it seems sometimes to look back at Classical composition for its bucolic feel.

It is also, however, a very brilliant piece. Musicians have been trying to mimic nature since the beginning of time, two notable antecedents to the Pastoral Symphony would be Vivaldi's four seasons and Haydn's oratorio The Seasons. None of them is as successful as Beethoven in evoking the emotions associated with the experience of the natural world.

In this last sense the work is almost impressionistic, it is not painting a scenery as much as making you feel the scenery. Therefore, in spite of the superficially non-challenging nature of the piece, it is still a work of refreshing originality. No composer before Beethoven was as attuned to human emotion as he is and that permits him to makes this work a really successful effort.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The first sketches of this symphony appeared in 1802. The symphony has a plot, storyline, and programmatic titles; Beethoven remarked, "It is left to the listener to find out the situations ... Anyone that has formed any ideal of rural life does not need titles to imagine the composer’s intentions."


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