I just recently picked up the John Eliot Gardiner recordings of Beethoven’s 3rd and 5th symphonies. From what I understand, he uses period instruments in all of his recordings, which I think is great. In reading the insert for the cd, I learned some interesting things about why this is. What Gardiner says is that in Beethoven’s time, music could only be performed when the right instruments were available to the symphony musicians. Apparently, all the best instruments went to people that were fighting in the service, so no instruments were left for the orchestra to use. When the instruments were returned, they were always low-quality and in terrible condition. The players did the best with what they had, though, and usually managed to sound alright. Fast-forward 200 years, and every professional musician has multiple high-quality instruments at their disposal. The sound of an orchestra playing with only professional-quality instruments is surely different than that of one playing with war-torn, second hand bugles and violins.
Anyways, the Gardiner recordings of the two symphonies are fantastic. They’re the most crisp, exciting renditions of Beethoven’s work that I’ve had the opportunity to hear in quite a while.
And speaking of not hearing things for quite a while…
I’ve also just gotten ahold of a copy of Bruce Springsteen’s album “Nebraska”. Upon hearing the first few songs, I started to hate myself for living 22 years without having this album- this is one of the best American folk albums that I’ve ever heard. I’ve had the song ‘Atlantic City’ on repeat all night. Springsteen is so incredibly profound in his verse; I don’t know how I’ve missed this album for so long. I’ve also been listening to his new song ‘The Wrestler’ a lot, too (from the film of the same name). I’m really upset that it wasn’t up for an Academy Award, as it’s one of the best and most eligible songs that I’ve heard in a movie in years. Here’s a link to the song: