“Reorganizing from the Night” : Comparing Versions in Classical Music. #Beethoven 7th #Symphony.

You have this “struggle” in popular music, too. A Rolling Stones song can be listened on vinyl, CD, in some remastered version, on many “live recordings”, some bootlegs. It’s… interesting to compare, right?

In classical music, it’s bigger. It’s like exploring a whole continent, especially with well known composers. Try to compare versions of the Bolero, or the Rite of Spring!

In classical music, the “Best Version” is often the first one, the one you KNOW. You get used to it, and you find the other ones too slow, to different, etc… That is a problem. But sometimes you want to compare. This is an exercise. Give me your hand…

You don’t have to explore the “whole” work. Here, we’ll be comparing the 7th Symphony of Beethoven for a single short one minute moment – the quiet nocturnal break in the 2nd movement – 6:00 here. Listen from 5 to 6 to 7:00, OK?


This passage is tricky for conductors, because it’s a brutal shut off in a middle of a pleasant pulsating peace. This is why it’s fun to explore and compare. After five minutes of splendid pulsating music, it goes “suddenly in the quiet” (at 4:58), then “suddenly in the dark” (at 6:00). For me, it’s the most beautiful music ever written by Beethoven, this “less than a minute”, reorganizing from the night…

OK, let’s work. Google can help you. I decided to pick my two bibles, the Gramophone Classical Music Guide and the Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music, plus the huge 1001 œuvres classiques. Find yours !

Everybody says Kleiber, Vienna, DG is the best. Try to Google “best recordings beethoven symphony 7”. I added a few YouTube links at the end.

Tool :

What is the lesson here? What do we like in these comparisons? How could we use it in another territory? What for?

Next time, try Mahler’s 2nd. It’s fabulous!

An evening with #beethoven 7th #symphony

17:15 feline, speed changing, trusting the team, delicate, and these subtleties…

21:17 detailed, precise, shy, colored

5:19 drawned, acid, slow, deep emphatic

19:02 Slower, Architectural, nocturnal, uninhabitated

6:01 gorgeous, flexible, pulsating

16:41 look at him, sculpting the sound, alive…



Overwhelmed While Trying No To…

Directing The Rite of String (and performing it, je suppose) is a mess.

ONE : it’s complicated.

TWO : it’s a terrible fantastic TRANCE, at times.

There’s a danger here, for the directors. They must direct ! Some of them finish it like devastated with pleasure. Some others try to control themselves : the audience should be extatic, not the Chef d’Orchestre ! Enfin !

The Fifth Movement of the Symphony N°2 “Resurrection” (I’ve read that it was “the most monumental musical work written up to that point“), by Gustav Mahler, is ending by a glorious use of choir.

I took this example because I watched a DVD of this Symphony, directed by Pierre Boulez, and at the end of the end (say, the 4 last minutes), the choir is building something really too much, and you feel the shivering chill of pleasure all along your delighted skin (hell, I’m french, and I do not know really how to say it).

At this moment, I saw this lady crying (cf picture) in the choir – why, maybe because of the music, but who knows ? – and just after the end, while the audience was applausing like crazy, I saw Boulez (did I imagine it ?) completely overwhelmed by emotion.

Dial : Is holding the flood possible/useful ? What about painters ? What about the best DJs ? Do they dance like fools, or do they focus on the perfection they want to bring to the dancers around him ?

Tool : If you create, try to check your stuff in the next morning. It could hurt. Good to you. Creating pleasure, it’s some work, Chief !

Let’s ask to a French poet :

It is impossible for a poet not to contain within himself a critic. Therefore the reader will not be surprised that I consider the poet as the best of all critics.

Charles Baudelaire