Wednesday, 21 June 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, June 2017)

BEETHOVEN Symphonies Vol.2
Symphonies Nos.5-8
Copenhagen Phil / LAN SHUI
Orchid Classics 100059 (2 CDs) / *****

Ever wondered what a Beethoven symphony cycle from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra might sound like on compact disc? 

In a crowded world of recorded Beethoven symphonies, SSO Music Director Lan Shui's vision with his Danish orchestra, the Copenhagen Phil (he was Chief Conductor from 2007-2015), stands out. Its spirit of freshness and vitality most resembles that of the 1990s ground-breaking cycle from his mentor David Zinman and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (initially released on Arte Nova, but now reissued on Sony Classical).

The timings of the symphonies on both cycles are very similar, although Shui's very brisk view of the popular Fifth Symphony clocks in at just over 30 minutes. This and his account of the Seventh Symphony may be said to be breathtaking at near supersonic speeds. 

Arguably even better is the Sixth Symphony or “Pastoral Symphony”, where finer details come to the fore, notably in the serene Scene At The Brook and a most gripping Storm movement. The Eighth Symphony, with its four movements of clockwork precision pacing, comes across as brilliant rather than hectic or forced. Highly recommended.     

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