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Review
Power from the maestro

This recording will gladden the hearts of serious listeners who prefer full scores to snippets

Beethoven
Rs 80
Milestone




Symphony No.2 in D Major, Op.36:

Beethoven wrote this symphony when he was about 28, and was starting to lose his hearing. He dedicated it to Prince Karl Lichnowsky.

The master composed this work for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, besides a lot of strings.

The first movement (Adagio molto -- Allegro con brio) starts softly and picks up tempo with controlled power, and is characterised by rhythmic string work. The second movement (Larghetto) depicts pathos combined with dignity -- emphasised by soft, intricate string and woodwind in the upper registers.

Unlike its preceding movement, the third movement (Scherzo-Allegro) expresses joy with a lilting theme returning intermittently. The final movement (Allegro molto) is a natural extension to the previous movement. With the string in the lead and intricate woodwind work in between, this movement sounds shows great pomp at many places.

Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op 67:

Like Beethoven himself, this symphony is concentrated energy, struggle and triumph. In its emotional voltage it is an intensively forward-looking work, embodying one of the powerful musical trends of the following hundred years.

The opening of the first movement (Allegro con brio) is a savage, imperious onslaught of just four notes, instantly recognisable from the numerous films and advertisements that have borrowed it. More rhythm than melody, it is one of the briefest, the most powerful, and certainly the most symphonic themes ever written. It is reported that Beethoven pointed out this theme to a friend and declared: "Thus fate knocks at the door!"

The second movement (Andante con moto) is less vibrant and more of an exercise in orchestral grace and charm that spins off into freedom and fantasy. It contrasts sharply with the Allegro of the third movement, which has a well-paced, menacing theme. The final movement, also an allegro, draws on the full orchestra, which leads to a coda of excitement, strength and brilliance.

It seems that Beethoven laboured some four years, 1804-8, on his Fifth Symphony, and interrupted himself to compose another symphony which was completed earlier, and hence numbered Fourth, and also to write a violin concerto and his Fourth Piano Concerto.

Performed by the legendary Hungarian conductor Béla Drahos along with the Hungarian Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, this is a good compilation for all those serious Western classical music lovers who prefer complete orchestral works to snippets.

Arnab Chowdhury


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