“A Must-Hear Maestro” (The New York Times)
“Extremes and superlatives reigned in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum” (Der Tagesspiegel). Critics were left gasping for breath, or at least adjectives, after Teodor Currentzis and his orchestra musicAeterna performed a complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies at the 2018 Salzburg Festival. Demand for tickets vastly outstripped supply, much as it did when the ensemble made its debut at the BBC Proms in London later in July under its founder-director, Teodor Currentzis. That night they performed the Second and Fifth Symphonies to more glowing reviews. “Playing of an intensity that makes the music seem somehow Beethoven-plus; more Beethoven than ever before.” (The Guardian)
Directly after the Prom, musicAeterna and Teodor Currentzis travelled to Vienna, where they recorded the Fifth and Seventh Symphonies at the Konzerthaus over the course of a week. Sony Classical now presents the recordings as a defining contribution to the celebrations marking Beethoven’s 250th anniversary. These two masterworks will be released separately. For Currentzis each symphony is similar to a novel, and two novels would never be combined into one book.
Few conductors in the recent memory have created such a sense of an event around every recording they make. Since becoming Sony Classical recording artists in 2012, Currentzis and musicAeterna have built a catalogue of recordings (including the Da Ponte operas of Mozart, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony and most recently Mahler’s Sixth Symphony) which have all garnered critical acclaim.
Though they are informed by the experience of live performances, these recordings are painstakingly made over the course of many hours. The Greek-born Russian-based conductor is now famed for his perfectionist’s ear for detail, and his hand-picked ensemble of musicians follows him every step of the way over weeks of rehearsal together. MusicAeterna and Currentzis stop at nothing to convey the expressive truth of a masterpiece. Every listener will want to hear the new Beethoven Fifth for themselves, to measure it against the hype, the great recordings of the past and their own expectations.
“Currentzis simply takes Beethoven’s controversial metronome markings at their word. In the slow movements he breathes with the music and phrases melodic arches organically.” (BR-Klassik)
Performances which respect Beethoven’s metronome markings are no longer so rare, but the high contrasts of the Fifth Symphony – of song rhythms and march rhythms, rough and smooth bowings, light and dark timbres, masculine and feminine endings – are etched into this new recording with unprecedented insight and illumination. Currentzis hones razor-sharp accents, pulsating rhythms, knife-edge attacks and resilient momentum. “A thrilling success. Perhaps this was how Beethoven’s first audiences felt – baffled and elated by hearing music that never quite does what the ear expects.” (The Times)
In March, Teodor Currentzis and musicAeterna will perform Beethoven’s Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Symphonies as part of the Beethovenfest in Bonn, before taking the program to Vienna’s Konzerthaus, with performances of various Beethoven symphonies in Lucerne, Seoul, Kyoto, and Tokyo following in April.
Sony Classical released Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on CD and digital platforms on April 03, 2020. The Seventh Symphony will follow in the autumn of 2020. The recording has been made possible by VTB Bank's support.