"Zinman's Beethoven... is swift, lean, exhilarating and
transparent. The Tonhalle copes bravely, often with
exceptional skill, and the recordings easily compare
with their best full-price rivals." - The Gramophone Good CD Guide
If you're looking for a real bargain set of Beethoven's complete symphonies, look no further. Zinman and Tonhalle have delivered a winner, with excellent sound and a great sticker price." - Amazon.com
Tonhalle Orchestra, Zürich/David Zinman, conductor
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 "Pastoral"
David Zinman's complete Beethoven symphony cycle has
garnered rave reviews worldwide. It is the world-premiere modern-instrument recording of the New Barenreiter Edition. This single disc of two of the most popular symphonies is a great introduction to the series. The Zinman recordings of the Beethoven symphonies won the German Record Critics' prize in 1999. Under the leadership of David Zinman, the Tonhalle Orchestra has undertaken a number of successful concert tours throughout Europe, the U.S. and Japan. In addition to concerts at home and
a busy touring schedule, the orchestra and Zinman are devoting increasing time to recording projects.
From Gramophone, December 1997:
"Beethoven 'premieres' are nowadays something of a common occurrence, what with new editions, newly recorded 'first' versions and various reconstructions. This particular production claims to be the "world premiere recording according to the new Barenreiter Edition" and parades a good number of textual novelties. Firstly, there is the little Adagio oboe solo that eases the tension towards the end of the Fifth Symphony's first movement (bar 268, or track 1, at 4'09''), here extended into a brief cadenza. Timpani are played with hard sticks and provide an unusually clear rhythmic base (note their vivid contribution at, say, 5'16'' into the Andante con moto) and in the Pastoral Symphony, at bar 65 in the first movement (track 5, 1'04''), the violin line is embellished by elegant little appoggiatura figures (the woodwinds follow suit a little later on). There is some extra flute trilling in the trio section of the "Peasants' Merrymaking" (track 7, 3'50'') and also towards the very end of the "Scene by the Brook" (where violins are muted), namely, at the second bout of bird-song (track 6, 11'26''). Both scores are visited by all manner of dynamic crescendos, diminuendos and other emphases (mostly applied to short phrases) and the sum effect is notably refreshing.
"Readers who know the Tonhalle Orchestra only from likeable old records by Josef Krips, Otto Ackermann and Franz Lehar will be astonished at the brilliance and polish of these performances. David Zinman assumed the orchestra's Music Directorship for the 1995-6 season and his skill as an orchestral trainer has consolidated a dramatic improvement in playing standards. I fondly remember attending recent Argo sessions for a Honegger collection (the planned CD is as yet unissued) and noting Zinman's painstaking attention to details of phrasing. Here, as there, Chris Hazell was the producer, and the sound quality of these (1997) sessions is truly state-of-the-art.
"As to the performances, tempos are very fast, phrasing trimly tailored (sometimes even a trifle abrupt) and rubato kept well in check. In the Fifth Symphony, Zinman plays all three repeats (first movement, Scherzo and finale) and his handling of the Scherzo's double-bass Trio (track 3, 1'37'')--where the players keep up the pace without slackening--deserves a round of applause. The Pastoral's proto-minimalist first-movement development section flies off at a fair lick and the slimline peasants make merry with energy to spare. And reservations? Well, the Fifth's finale might have benefited from a wider curve of dynamics and I occasionally craved a little more in the way of tonal weight (the orchestra sounds relatively small). Still, viable alternatives are thick on the ground (Dorati's LSO/Mercury coupling is among the most exciting 'traditional' rivals) and I would strongly recommend this CD to readers who know their Klemperers, their Toscaninis and their Furtwanglers backwards, who fancy investigating some scholarly emendations but who dislike period-instrument sonorities. Come to think of it, even the period-instrument brigade stand to learn a thing or two: Zinman's performances offer further illumination of a route that Norrington, Gardiner, Bruggen, Hogwood, Harnoncourt and others have explored with such fascinating results. They also provide a peach of a bargain, although Arte Nova, having boldly announced their 'World Premiere', offer no comment whatever on the Edition used (or on any of the textual alterations included therein)--just brief analyses of the symphonies themselves." - Gramophone (December 1997)