Day 59 – Beethoven “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6 (CD 59)

Ahh, Ludwig. You never let me down.

Today’s album is Ludwig van Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 6, aka “Pastoral.”

This gorgeous piece of music was composed between 1802 and 1808. Beethoven (1770-1827) was between the ages of 32 and 38.

During the course of listening to 58 prior albums, I’ve been introduced to new composers, new musicians, new music critics, and new factoids about Reiner and the CSO that I’d never known before.

Some composers I’ve liked. Some I have not.

But I always like Beethoven.

There’s just something about his melodic sensibilities, his dramatic flair, his uncanny ability to mine the depths of his own soul so as to touch the depths of mine that gets me every time.

I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating: Beethoven touches my heart. Mozart touches my mind. Bruckner touches my spirit.

If I could only listen to three composers for the rest of my life, I’d pick those three. (In fact, I may so just that – create an exploration that takes me through everything Mozart, Beethoven, and Bruckner composed. In the case of Mozart and Beethoven, that would be simple. I already own complete editions of their works. Bruckner, however, would be touch to assemble. To my knowledge, there’s no “complete edition” of Bruckner’s works. Assembling something even close could take quite awhile, and cost an arm and a leg.)

The Objective Stuff

If you learn more about Beethoven, click on his Wikipedia entry here.

From its entry on Wikipedia,

The Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the Pastoral Symphony (German: Pastorale), is a symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven and completed in 1808. One of Beethoven’s few works containing explicitly programmatic content, the symphony was first performed in the Theater an der Wien on 22 December 1808 in a four-hour concert.

Beethoven was a lover of nature who spent a great deal of his time on walks in the country. He frequently left Vienna to work in rural locations. The composer said that the Sixth Symphony is “more the expression of feeling than painting”, a point underlined by the title of the first movement.

The first sketches of the Pastoral Symphony appeared in 1802. It was composed simultaneously with Beethoven’s more famous—and fierier—Fifth Symphony. Both symphonies were premiered in a long and under-rehearsed concert in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 22 December 1808.

Frank A. D’Accone suggested that Beethoven borrowed the programmatic ideas (a shepherd’s pipe, birds singing, streams flowing, and a thunderstorm) for his five-movement narrative layout from Le Portrait musical de la Nature ou Grande Symphonie, which was composed by Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752–1817) in 1784.

This was recorded over two dates in 1961: April 8 (tracks 1 and 2), and April 8 and 10 (tracks 3-5). Maestro Reiner was in his 73rd year of life The piece was composed when Beethoven was between the ages of 32 and 38.

The Subjective Stuff

Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD booklet notes: 2
CD “album cover” information: 5
How does this make me feel: 10

Perfectly recorded. Perfectly conducted. Perfectly performed.

Maybe my own “pastoral” setting helped my appreciation for Beethoven’s Pastoral.

I don’t know from Dynagroove (and how that even applies to a compact disc), but I do know from inspired composition and performance.

This is that.

I’d listen to this album again. And again. And again.

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