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BEETHOVEN, L. van: Egmont / Ah, perfido / Marches. Naxos 8.557264

Conductor(s): James Judd

Orchestra(s): New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Artist(s): Obalski, Claus; Pierard, Madeleine

Shortly after completing his breathtaking Fifth Symphony, Beethoven composed
incidental music for Goethe' drama, Egmont. While the Overture is well known,
the remaining movements deserve no less attention as they chart the tragic
course of Count Egmon


"The programmatic overture is rightly an established masterpiece, maybe
his best composition in this genre, and James Judd and his admirable New Zealand
forces present it in all its glory, rather brisk and dynamic…the Marcia in No.
3 is fresh and attractive…Clärchen'­­s deeply-felt death,
Egmont's Melodrama—excel­lently performed by Claus Obalski—with its
optimistic final pages followed by the symbolic Symphony of Victory, which we
already know from the end of the overture.

Clärchen's two songs are another matter. They are fresh and charming
and immediately attractive, in particular Die Trommel gerühret! (tr. 2), with
its catchy melody and swaggering march rhythm. I have long cherished Janet
Baker's recordings of them on a thirty-year-old Philips record. Madeleine
Pierard is lighter and more lyrical, less formidable, but her readings are very
attractive and she sings extremely well.

Janet Baker's is again one of my favourite readings of the mighty Ah!
perfido, a grandiose interpretation that not even Birgit Nilsson and Christa
Ludwig surpass. Ms Pierard exposes however a dramatic voice with true

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  • Store location: North Shore, Auckland, NZ

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