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21.11.11

John Eliot Gardiner's Extraordinary Beethoven



available at Amazon
Beethoven, Symphonies, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, J. E. Gardiner
Charles T. Downey, John Eliot Gardiner Rethinks Beethoven
The Washingtonian, November 21:
One of the highlights of the season of concerts sponsored by Washington Performing Arts Society is the visits by some of the world’s best international orchestras. As expected, this season’s lineup of visiting orchestras has been particularly excellent. After a polished appearance by the Budapest Festival Orchestra last month, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique made its WPAS debut on Saturday afternoon. Founder-director John Eliot Gardiner led three pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, which one could be excused for thinking were very familiar but which, in these sterling performances, proved to be anything but.

Gardiner’s career as a conductor traces the trajectory of the early music movement, led by ensembles devoted to performing music on period-appropriate instruments and benefiting from knowledge about performance practice gleaned from musicological research. First, Gardiner helped lead a revival of Monteverdi and other composers from the 17th century with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. To widen his work into classical and romantic music, Gardiner formed the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in 1990. He proceeded along similar lines with this later music, using instruments from the appropriate era and applying the fruits of historical research. His recordings of the Beethoven symphonies, re-released as a complete set last year, may not be to everyone’s taste, but there is little doubt that listening to them will make you think about Beethoven’s music in new ways. [Continue reading]
SEE ALSO:
Joe Banno, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique at the Kennedy Center (Washington Post, November 21)

Steve Smith, Period Instruments Breathe New Life Into a Musical Hero (New York Times, November 17)

Fred Kirshnit, Orchestre Révolutionnaire at Romantique (MusicalCriticism.com, November 19)

Brian Wise, John Eliot Gardiner's Historical Beethoven At Carnegie Hall (NPR, November 15) -- includes online audio

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