Herbert Blomstedt

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 "Pastoral"

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Herbert Blomstedt's 1977 recordings of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor and the Symphony No. 6 in F major, "Pastoral," may be counted among the most exacting accounts on CD, though not necessarily the most expressive. No one could fault Blomstedt for technical mastery, and his conducting of the Staatskapelle Dresden is meticulous in articulation, sharp in accentuation, and smooth in phrasing, and he draws out every note in the score without fail. Unfortunately, despite the tight focus on every detail and the admirable clarity of the playing here, the music's emotional levels are not matched accordingly, and the performances of these two popular symphonies have more of perfection than of passion to them. Students will find these recordings immensely useful, for their accuracy recommends them for following along with a score. But anyone who seeks a stirring performance of the Fifth or a charming reading of the Sixth will find that this recording will neither compel the emotions nor beguile the imagination. Some may find the cool emotional temperature to their taste, particularly those listeners who still see Beethoven leaning toward the Classical ideal in these works. However, anyone who favors the Romantic Beethoven will likely be bored and should look elsewhere. The analog recording is well-balanced and clean in the digital transfer, with no trace of tape hiss.

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