Angriest interpretation of Beethoven?
October 4, 2009 1:35 PM   Subscribe

What are the most intense, angriest interpretations of Beethoven? What about even more intense composers and interpretations of those?
posted by Josh Coe to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Wilhelm Furtwangler's 1942 version of the Ninth Symphony. No question about it.
posted by fearthehat at 1:40 PM on October 4, 2009

John Eliot Gardiner -- very fast (the 6th and 8th!)
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2009

To be clearer ... I recommend Gardiner's complete 9, but the 6th and 8th are especially fast.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2009

Quartetto Italiano playing the late string quartets -- unsurpassable
posted by cbrody at 2:28 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Perahia's take on the 3rd movement of the Moonlight. I mean it's a ferocious take on a ferocious sonata in all three movements. But oh boy, Perahia's #14 mvt. 3.
posted by voronoi at 3:29 PM on October 4, 2009

By the way, if the apparent Nazi connection of the 1942 Ninth Symphony worries you then you should read Peter Gutmann's article Wilhelm Furtwangler: Genius Forged in the Cauldron of War, which details Furtwangler's relationship with the government of the time. He was by no means a collaborator or sympathiser - very much the opposite, in fact. Heck, you can even see him preparing to wipe off his hand after being forced to shake with Goebbels in the clip linked above.

For me, at least, the fact that he managed to deliver such an humanistic (and very angry) interpretation of the Ninth at a Nazi state function is nothing short of remarkable.
posted by fearthehat at 3:41 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not angry, but intense: Leonard Bernstein conducting the 9th symphony on Christmas Day, 1989 in Berlin to celebrate the fall of the wall always makes me weep copiously. (He changed the "ode to joy" to "ode to freedom.")

And thanks to this question, I learn you can watch him do it on youtube. Yay internet.

A bookend, perhaps, for Furtwangler.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:20 PM on October 4, 2009

Vlado Perlmuter plays the Appassionata Sonata in a wonderful mix of brutality and beauty.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 9:20 PM on October 4, 2009

Best answer: Rudolf Serkin. Especially the so-called Hammerklavier sonata Op. 106. But there's enough humming and stamping going on in almost everything he recorded. The 1940s fourth piano concerto with the NYP and Toscanini is a classic. (You'll find a snippet of the Moonlight last mvt. somewhere on youtube).
Then Richter's live recording of the Appassionata, the one where he hits that gorgeous wrong note just before the end.

Then, for the non-specialist perhaps paradoxically, some recordings on early pianos convey Beethovenian would-be anger more (tho)roughly than most on modern instruments. There is a CD set on the label Claves where Malcolm Bilson and some of his students work themselves through all 32 piano sonatas, and some of the results are pretty darn angry.

Symphonic, I find Gardiner fast but not angry. The third symphony ("Eroica") with the orchestra of the 18th century and Frans Bruggen (Philips) is pretty angry, but then, so is Furtwängler's.

Other intense and angry composers-interpretations: returning to Serkin, the recordings of the two Brahms piano concertos with George Szell and the Cleveland orchestra might be what you're looking for - almost a competition of aggression between the conductor and the soloist.
posted by Namlit at 2:11 AM on October 5, 2009

You might try Shostakovich's fifth and seventh symphonies. For the fifth, stay away from (at least) Bernstein and Haitink; they take the fourth movement far too quickly. Barshai with the WDR Orchestra is pretty good. For the seventh, I've only heard Jansons with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, which I recommend (though it may be hard to find and/or expensive).
posted by clorox at 10:00 AM on October 5, 2009

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