Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Calling all music police: round up the Bernstein-Beethoven recordings

About five years ago, I got home one evening from somewhere, and turned on WRR, the Dallas classical radio station.

I immediately recognized the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I shortly thereafter recognized that this was probably the worst interpretation I ever heard.

Like watching a train wreck, mesmerized, I had to listen to the end to see who was conducting.

I found out it was Leonard Bernstein, specifically his fall of the Berlin Wall epic performance, if I may use the word “epic” loosely. (I had never heard it before.)

He had everything wrong, in my opinion — tempos, phrasings, nuances of dynamics, you name it.

Since that time, I have occasionally heard other Beethoven recordings of his on the radio, and I am convinced of one thing.

Lenny was clueless about Beethoven. Period.

So, I suggest we deputize some music police, confiscate every Bernstein recording of Beethoven, and destroy them all.

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