Barenboim/WEDO at Carnegie (3): the Pastoral and the Seventh
During this cycle, Barenboim has tried to show how Beethoven’s symphonies form wholes, their themes and interests continuing throughout sections rather than being constrained in mutually exclusive movements. This is easiest in the two middle symphonies, with the Fifth unified by its motto’s transformations, and with the Sixth shaped by its programme of moods and a journey of transfiguration. In the Proms Pastoral, which I reviewed here, Barenboim brought this religious angle to the fore, giving the music the inevitability and redemptive edge of the final act of Parsifal. This time around the symphony was hobbled with technical difficulties, just as the Fourth and Eroica had been two nights earlier, but there was a power of vision to Barenboim’s direction that kept a greater focus.
The Pastoral required immense patience: it essentially had one climax, near the end of the final movement. The Seventh was more immediately gratifying, with Barenboim covering technical issues (narrowly conceived) with energy, phrasing, and contrapuntal detail. You can read more via Bachtrack here.