Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Guy Weatherall
Classical Music, September 2019

Blomstedt’s Beethoven seems ‘right’: tempi are never too fast or too slow, but never staid, and phrasing is alive with rhythmic energy and cumulative momentum. His Leipzig players give their all—the strings in particular have a glorious burnished gold sonority—and, in the masterfully paced ninth, Mihoko Fujimura and Christian Gerhaher are especially noteworthy. Economically priced and packaged, this CD release makes a viable alternative to Accentus’ ongoing DVD and Blu-ray cycle of the same performances, albeit without the latter’s commendably straightforward camera work and textbook surround sound. © 2019 Classical Music

Stephen Barber
MusicWeb International, March 2018

[Blomstedt’s] work with the orchestra clearly shows in the precise articulation of the main theme of the first movement of No. 1, when it arrives after the slow introduction, and in the phrasing of the string lines and the subtle rhythmic tattoo on the timpani in the second movement. I also greatly enjoyed the vitality of this performance and the clarity of the different lines. I feel Stravinsky would have liked this.

No. 2 is a much grander work and here I particularly liked Blomstedt’s handling of the antiphonal writing between strings and wind in the first movement and also the balancing of the two groups in the second.

In No. 4 he conveys the depth and mystery of the opening, and we remember that this is a conductor who has excelled in Brahms. There is a terrific drive to the Allegro when we get to it. In the slow movement I particularly liked the precise articulation of the dotted rhythm, the expressiveness of the solo wind lines, particularly in the passages where they play the same melody three octaves deep. We then have the double alternation of scherzo and trio and the finale is an exciting whirlwind of sound.

The Pastoral is sheer delight. Blomstedt takes the slow movement, ‘By the Brook’, at a slightly faster speed than usual and it benefits from this. The birdsong imitations are charmingly done. The finale strikes the right note of rejoicing and the muted horn at the end—the only time, I believe, that Beethoven uses this effect—is most poetic.

No. 7 comes over as a mighty work, with apt choices of tempo and a willingness to bring in light and shade and avoid a relentless driving on. There is intense pathos in the slow movement and in the faster movements the emphasis is on power rather than speed.

No. 8 comes over as a fierce little work, short but strong and with plenty of Beethoven’s slightly scary humour. This is most evident in the finale where the apparently cheerful opening theme suddenly produces a loud and irrelevant C sharp, a trick not explained until just before the end. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Peter Quantrill
Gramophone, October 2017

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (Šaturová, Mihoko Fujimura, Elsner, Gerhaher, Leipzig Gewandhaus Choir and Orchestra, Blomstedt) ACC-80322
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Triple Concerto, Op. 56 / Symphony No. 5 (I. Faust, Queyras, Helmchen, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Blomstedt) (NTSC) ACC-20411
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Triple Concerto, Op. 56 / Symphony No. 5 (I. Faust, Queyras, Helmchen, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Blomstedt) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) ACC-10411
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 (Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Blomstedt) (NTSC) ACC-20413
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 (Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Blomstedt) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) ACC-10413

Under Blomstedt, the musicians sound at ease yet always on their mettle.

Blomstedt has gauged the weight of each climax in the First—as much as is necessary and no more—so that the symphony stands poised on the threshold between Classical and Romantic expression. …The Second is occasionally prone to a species of constrained literalism encountered again in a stiff transition from Adagio to Allegro in the Fourth’s opening movement…

Where possible—for the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth—these are performances to be watched… There is the occasional frown and raised eyebrow from Blomstedt as he comes again to a private understanding with the music, not in gestures of censure. More often he is wreathed in beatific smiles, and his musicians appear uncommonly happy with their lot. The Pastoral breathes contentment, with a spring in the step of the first movement that admits all the necessary space for anticipation, excitement and the passing joy of moments such as the chuckling clarinet and bassoon figures.

The concert-film of the Fifth is preceded by a Triple Concerto in which Blomstedt thins out the ensemble to offer lively support to his soloists; in turn, Isabelle Faust sweetens her tone in graceful complement to the Leipzig sound. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Antony Hodgson, September 2017

Blomstedt gives a swift, unrelenting reading—there is immense power when needed and yet there is not quite the intensity that might have been expected. There is admirable robustness however and it matches the forthright Scherzo—much rhythmic thrust here and precise phrasing in the rapid Trio. …Christian Gerhaher’s opening solo is not unduly highlighted and at the dramatic full-chorus “vor Gott”, Beethoven’s molto tenuto is given full value. The tenor avoids being militaristic and is properly sung at the required modest volume level—others approach this almost as a call to arms but with Christian Elsner it is simply a confident encouragement. This is a skilled group of vocal soloists although in the passages where they sing as a quartet their voices do not fully blend yet I admire the way in which Šimona Saturova soars seraphically above the others. This is a generally swift performance—nearly seven minutes faster than Blomstedt’s Dresden version—but there is no sense of haste. …this is a notable performance of a great masterpiece and the coda is as thrilling as any. © 2017 Read complete review

Paul Corfield Godfrey
Pizzicato, July 2017

Herbert Blomstedt’s Beethoven testament is overall coherent, natural and immensely rhetoric. The music flows continuously with a vivid pulsation and is always admirably transparent. The rapid movements are fresh, with splendid rhythmic bounce, while the slow movements have warmth and are strikingly beautiful. The orchestral playing is of high quality, and the recorded sound is very good. © 2017 Pizzicato

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group