Don’t miss the last Louisville Orchestra broadcast of the season with Jorge Mester conducting Beethoven’s first and last symphonies, recorded in Whitney Hall with soloists Katie van Kooten, Rebekah Bortz Hardin, Daniel Weeks, Kenneth Shaw and the chorus which included singers from University of Louisville Cardinal Singers and Collegiate Chorale, Voces Novae and Louisville Chamber Choir.
And listen to this interesting segment from Radiolab on Beethoven and the metronome.
It’s only one of two surviving Passion settings by Bach (he may have written 4-5), first heard in 1727 and not heard again until over 100 years later when Felix Mendelssohn presented Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin. This week Bill McGlaughlin dives into the St. Matthew Passion on Exploring Music (Weekdays at 7pm).
in 2011, the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle presented a compelling, semi-staged version of the St. Matthew Passion directed by Peter Sellars. It was also released it on DVD and Blu-ray.
Last week I recommended a “historically-informed performance” (HIP) recording of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Now it’s time to look at the “traditional” performances of the opus that are available.
To pick one recording out of the hundreds that are available as the greatest would be an act of folly, as any choice as “the definitive” performance would raise the hackles of almost everyone else who has an opinion on the matter. So please allow me to offer two recommendations from different eras from the history of recordings.
Herbert von Karajan recorded the entire symphonic cycle of Beethoven four (yes, 4!) times. It is generally accepted that the 1963 recordings are his best. Karajan uses spirited tempi where appropriate. Fine soloists shine in the finale of the Ninth.
Claudio Abbado’s 2000 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic stands out among others in its boxed set of the complete symphonies. Abbado had the unenviable task of taking over the reigns of the Berlin Philharmonic after decades of leadership from Karajan. But he led the group admirably during his short tenure. The Berlin musicians play sharper than before and Abbado leads them in fresh interpretations of the works.