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<<<  <<  -- 5 --  Malcolm Miller    UNDERMINING THE THEME?

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And so, finally to the Waldstein: overall a highly charged, propulsive account, that impressed for its forthright energy and forcefulness, and that drove towards its culmination in the finale with vigour and vivacity. However there were some idiosyncratic colourings of chords and the main motifs at the outset, falling thirds and fifths were curiously indistinct or unshaped, as also in the development. The minor interludes in the finale also seemed unnecessarily aggressive, to the detriment of melodic detail, and even if Barenboim intended to create a harsh sound, this would have been fine had the main joyous theme itself been more glowingly savoured, but it wasn't, and the left hand scalic accompaniments just blurred almost carelessly. As it was it seemed as if Barenboim really was just driving the piece to its goal, with some of the magical shifts in key of the final Presto receiving little or no special treatment.

Perhaps it was the syncopated final cadence which bounced buoyantly with brilliant bravado that most instantly elicited the roar from the crowd at the end, though the standing ovation clearly had more to do with celebrity personality and presence than, as far as I could see, musical insight. And while the cheering continued, and as Barenboim came across the stage to bow to each section of the audience, I wondered where Beethoven's essential, subtle musical values had vanished to, amidst all the fame and fuss?

Copyright © 11 February 2008 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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MILLER ON BARENBOIM AND THE WEST-EASTERN DIVAN

BARENBOIM AND THE STAATSKAPELLE BERLIN PLAY MAHLER

BARENBOIM AND THE WEST-EASTERN DIVAN IN RAMALLAH

BARENBOIM CONDUCTS WAGNER'S 'RING'

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