The Beethoven Orchestra of Bonn concludes its complete recording of the symphonies of the composer whose name it bears with an absolutely rousing performance. The spirited Seventh Symphony brings together everything that General Music Director Stefan Blunier has demanded of his musicians from the very beginning of this cycle: emotional depth, gripping rhythms, frenetic energy, and powerful tension holding the audience in suspense even after the last chord has faded away. Prior to this work, however, the Bonn musicians show the Fourth Symphony in an entirely new light: no longer a bashful “wallflower,” it shines in its own special way between its two more famous neighbors.
This process begins even in the enigmatic introduction: chromatic suspensions mark the musical course of events, groping chords seek a harmonic path, and the music enters a clearing, festively spreading out to reveal the jubilant theme. Stefan Blunier’s highly expressive approach would have pleased the work’s admirers: Robert Schumann regarded the Fourth as Beethoven’s “most romantic” symphony – “a lithe Hellenic maiden between two Nordic giants.”
It is hardly surprising that Beethoven’s Seventh is so popular today. The gripping rhythms pervading all four movements led even Richard Wagner in his time to term it the “apotheosis of dance.” However, it arose in a highly political atmosphere. Like no other work, it lends expression of the highest art to the euphoric spirit of new beginnings uniting Europe’s peoples on the eve of the Congress of Vienna.
Why does the BOB recording of Beethoven’s symphonies now complete have such a marvelous impact? Two reasons: because of the first-class interpretation and because it is the first cycle to be recorded in its entirety in three-dimensional 2+2+2 sound on Super Audio CD, setting a discographic milestone guaranteed to please audiophile music fans – and not only them. Stefan Blunier’s recording of seven rarely heard overtures along with this cycle rounds off this top-quality musical treat with a master’s touch.