Symphonies Nos 40 & 41
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/herbert Blomstedt
BR Klassik 900164 72:39 mins
★erbert Blomstedt and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra offer attractive, if unspectacular, performances of the two most famous of all 18th-century symphonies. Blomstedt makes large edifices out of them by observing every single repeat, even in the da capo of the minuets. The Jupiter runs just shy of 40 minutes this way, and the finale’s long second-half repeat brings with it the advantage of throwing the spotlight onto the coda, with its famous counterpoint combining all five themes. It was this work that began the notion of shifting the weight of the symphonic design firmly onto the finale – a process Beethoven carried further in his last two symphonies.
Elsewhere, it’s sometimes harder to justify Blomstedt’s plethora of repeats since he seems to have little new to offer the second (or in the case of the minuets, third or fourth) time through. ★e gives a lively account of the Jupiter Symphony’s first movement, and he’s no slouch in the Andante of No. 40, either, which emerges as something closer to an Allegretto. So generally stylish performances – it’s just a pity they lack that extra degree of personality and imagination that could have lifted them onto a higher plane. Misha Donat