Critiques CD REVIEWS

Advertisement / Publicité

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

  • Harmonia mundi
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)

Beethoven: Symphonie no 5 Gossec: Symphonie

Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth

Advertisement / Publicité

Harmonia mundi HMM902423

Total time: 54:00

Harmonia mundi continues to pay tribute to Beethoven in his 250th anniversary year. After the Symphony No. 1, the complete Bagatelles for piano, the Symphony No. 9 and the Choral Fantasy, the label has released another essential score, Symphony No. 5 as performed by Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth. This album is original in two ways: in its almost “classical” interpretation of the work – in keeping with its musical period – and in offering, as a complement, a work seldom performed or recorded.

Far from the heaviness that characterizes a great many interpretations of Symphony No. 5, meant to evoke fate actually knocking at the door, the French conductor opts instead for a brisk performance with detached phrases that stand out distinctly when played by this or that instrument section. This is true of the first movement as well as the fourth, whose pace is clearly martial. We even hear, on occasion, the individual voice of the trumpet or solo bassoon. As for the famous four-note motif, it hits the ear with a surplus of cellos and double basses, in a more staccato style than is usual.

Many of these characteristics are made possible by the studio environment. The second movement gives us further proof of this, this time with a more intimate sound. However, not all is perfect. Between the third and fourth movements (tracks 3 and 4) the recording inserts an artificial silence where these movements are normally linked without interruption.

The decision to offer the Symphonie en 17 parties is the other original aspect of this disc. François-Joseph Gossec, known for his involvement in the French Revolution, here celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille. Written in 1809, a year after the premiere of Beethoven’s Fifth, this work remains more attached to the classical style of Haydn or Mozart. It is also strongly influenced by Italian opera. Very lyrical, the first movement sounds like accompanied recitative and recalls certain musical features of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The second movement, more intimate, resembles a scene taken straight from The Marriage of Figaro. The third movement, more dramatic, is in the form of a fugue and turns out to be the most interesting of the four. Finally, the fourth movement returns to a style close to Italian opera with its very elongated cadences.

In many ways, then, the works of Beethoven and Gossec could not be more different. A surprising union, of course, but at least one that offers the listener welcome variety. JB

Translation by Margaret Britt

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la médiation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. Membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et chargé de cours à l’Université de Sherbrooke. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.