Beethoven's Seventh Symphony
July 15, 2015 3:52 PM   Subscribe

 
Nice! This is my fav Beethoven symphony. Looking forward to digging into the post!
posted by persona au gratin at 4:04 PM on July 15, 2015


Curiousity: can you link to Apple Music as you did Spotify?
posted by persona au gratin at 4:05 PM on July 15, 2015


My favorite version is Guido Cantelli's.
posted by acrasis at 4:07 PM on July 15, 2015


I've always found the 3rd movement problematic. Some conductors make it too bumptious; others too refined. I've never heard a completely convincing interpretation (except perhaps Wilhelm Furtwangler's?). Please offer suggestions, because I can never have too many performances of the 7th.
posted by acrasis at 4:17 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Curiousity: can you link to Apple Music as you did Spotify?

Unfortunately, I don't know. I don't mean to shill for Spotify. It's just that Spotify is the streaming service I use. If anyone else has links to good recordings on other streaming services, feel free to post them!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:22 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can link to Apple Music! And I knew you weren't a Spotify shill. ;)
posted by persona au gratin at 4:38 PM on July 15, 2015


acrasis: I've always found the 3rd movement problematic. Some conductors make it too bumptious; others too refined. I've never heard a completely convincing interpretation (except perhaps Wilhelm Furtwangler's?). Please offer suggestions, because I can never have too many performances of the 7th.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive but since you're looking for something more balanced, I would suggest trying/revisiting Toscanini here. He takes it quickly with little fuss. I would certainly recommend the 1935 New York Philharmonic recording (in my top 5 for this symphony) but the 50s NBC Symphony version is quite fine, too.

Though perhaps closer to home, if you're referring to a later Furtwangler recording the 1943 with the BPO that is the one to go for, especially considering what you're looking for. Much more fire and less grandeur than the others.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:13 PM on July 15, 2015


Beethoven's 7th symphony is the piece that got me hooked on classical music. It was, specifically, the Allegretto in the 1975 VPO Kleiber recording (the second Kleiber linked in the OP). The layers and levels and architecture of it was blew my young mind.

It remains the symphony I have heard the most recordings of, by far. I might have even made Spotify a playlist of 80 versions that I am slowly listening through.

My favorites are the aforementioned Kleiber, the 1943 BPO Furtwangler, and the 1936 NYPO Toscanini (I misremembered the year for my previous comment).

But another performance I wouldn't want to be without is the 1990 BSO Bernstein. It was recorded live at Tanglewood just a month before he passed. It's a little slower and more sloppy than his earlier (fine) recordings with NYPO and VPO, but what he does with the repeats in the Allegro con brio is amazing. I believe he takes them all, generally slowly noticeably for the start of the section and then accelerating on the repeat. They were put in service of the forward motion of the movement.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:44 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


For most of my life Beethoven's 7th was my favorite Beethoven symphony. Now my favorite is the 8th, but the 7th will always have a special place in my heart.

I'm loving these posts, btw. Keep it up!
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:51 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the 1943 Furtwangler 7th is my favorite recorded piece of music in all of history, ever. Either that or Trout Mask Replica, anyway. The second movement in particular... honestly, I kinda feel like if you don't think the second movement of Beethoven's 7th is the most affecting piece of music of all time it may be because you've never heard it? Or you've heard a performance that doesn't give it the elegiac weight of Furtwangler's.

I look forward to checking out these other performances though. Maybe I will find a new favorite. Thanks!
posted by town of cats at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


> But another performance I wouldn't want to be without is the 1990 BSO Bernstein. It was recorded live at Tanglewood just a month before he passed.

This adds absolutely nothing to this conversation, but I was at that performance. I couldn't pass up the chance to brag about that again.

The 7th was my first favorite symphony. I've always loved it.

Spotify users: what is the best way to explore classical music in Spotify? Are there any tips or tricks?
posted by popechunk at 9:30 PM on July 15, 2015


This adds absolutely nothing to this conversation, but I was at that performance.

Whoah.


Spotify users: what is the best way to explore classical music in Spotify? Are there any tips or tricks?

A decent place to start is Ulysses' Classical. This person used to run a blog, Spotify Classical, on their own but then (now?) worked (still?) for Spotify in some fashion.

The blog had some nice tips, though with some of the improvements to how Spotify deals with classical music (in part put through by Ulysses) they are not all necessary. But that user (and that blog) has many fantastic playlists. They used to host a yearly collaborative New Classical Releases Index; the 2014 edition had 1670 tracks, each from different 2014 releases added by near 100 different users.

My other tip is to follow people who listen to classical music, look at their playlists. There are many different approaches to cataloging the music that is out there; I'm sure you can find ways you like.
posted by mountmccabe at 10:58 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also: I watched the Thielemann and the Kleiber tonight. I enjoyed both but oh, wow, I love how much more expressive Kleiber is, both in his conducting and in his approach to the music. There's so much more life to the symphony with that fluid approach. And though he takes the Allegretto quicker than Thielemann he gets just as much out of it.

In some of the earlier threads people have talked about not being sure what a conductor is doing up there, but I would heartily recommend watching the Carlos Kleiber here. He is very expressive, almost dancing up there. He has very clear cues for the orchestra as well, both to certain sections and soloists but also for overall dynamics. It is possible this is just me; I am very much on board with his view of the architecture of this symphony.

And of course a lot of what a conductor does is in rehearsals, but I find Kleiber on stage very easy to match to the music. He seems very responsive to the music, despite it being much more the other way around. The connection seems most evident in the outer movements.
posted by mountmccabe at 11:11 PM on July 15, 2015


One of my favorites, second only to Prokofiev's Fifth!

When I played this back in the day with my youth orchestra in high school, I distinctly remember our conductor telling us to think of the second movement as a person, starting with the skeleton, being built layer upon layer until it was a complete human. Being the horror film fan I am, my mind immediately went to Frank's resurrection scene from Hellraiser. Ever since, I can't hear the second movement without, at least briefly, having a mental flash of Frank returning from Hell.

This is a great post, and I can't wait to listen to the list of recommended recordings to compare - thanks for sharing!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 5:02 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a "chord geek", I love the clever-but-not-ostentatious motion in the Allegretto. Reminds me a little of M. R. James fiction -- sort of modern/progressive couched in the traditional/antiquarian. Compare that to, say, Vivaldi, where for me that bit of interest just isn't there. (Perhaps that's one of the many reasons I'm not a music critic.)
posted by kurumi at 8:19 AM on July 16, 2015


town of cats: just put on the 1943 Furtwangler. Thanks!
posted by persona au gratin at 12:17 PM on July 16, 2015


This adds absolutely nothing to this conversation, but I was at that performance.

Heh, I missed that by two inches for the Kleiber and the Brüggen here above.
The Brüggen performance I heard in Amsterdam, a few days later or earlier than his recording was made (live, in Utrecht).
And Kleiber. The tickets for that particular concert sold out instantly, no way even to get last-minute tickets. We had a beer instead.
posted by Namlit at 12:02 AM on July 17, 2015


The second movement was used to good effect in the climatic scene from The King's Speech. No coincidence that Geoffrey Rush is effectively "conducting" Colin Firth as he delivers it.
posted by How the runs scored at 12:57 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The second movement was used to good effect in the climatic scene from The King's Speech.
This is such a powerful piece of cinema, and a good portion of that is the Beethoven. It's almost Shakespearean in drama and scope. Seriously, if you're not ready for a call to arms and to follow the king into battle by the end of that scene, I don't know what will.
posted by zooropa at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2015


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