Rafael Kubelik - Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

Rafael Kubelik - Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8
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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

In Deutsche Grammophon's reissue of Beethoven's Seventh and Eighth symphonies, Rafael Kubelik conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in the former and the Cleveland Orchestra in the latter. The performance of the Seventh is workman-like, even somewhat stolid, hardly fulfilling Wagner's description of the symphony as "the apotheosis of the dance." In the first movement, Kubelik downplays the contrast between the slow introduction, with its extended build-up of tension, and the Vivace, which lacks the explosive energy it needs to really take off. Kubelik's failure to give shape to the phrases of repeated notes makes the sublime Allegretto come across as foursquare, when it should be limpid and mysterious. The third and fourth movements are played very grandly, and the sound of the Vienna Philharmonic is gorgeous -- full and warm -- but the requisite fleetness is missing, and the final effect, while not exactly plodding, fails to stir the blood.Kubelik is more successful with the Eighth, and his reading captures the symphony's playfully irreverent spirit, making the most of Beethoven's musical jokes. His interpretation is attuned to its humor and charm and is appropriately light-footed and bristling with energy. The Cleveland Orchestra plays with flexibility and a warm sound with crisp articulation. The sound quality is satisfyingly full and clean. The single page of program notes is in French only.

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
1. Poco Sostenuto - VivaceRafael Kubelik13:25
2. AllegrettoRafael Kubelik9:28
3. Presto - Assai meno prestoRafael Kubelik9:31
4. Allegro con brioRafael Kubelik7:22
Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
1. Allegro vivace e con brioRafael Kubelik9:28
2. Allegretto scherzandoRafael Kubelik4:06
3. Tempo di menuettoRafael Kubelik5:08
4. Allegro vivaceRafael Kubelik7:36