This orchestra is recording a Beethoven cycle

This orchestra is recording a Beethoven cycle


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2020

The Hanover Band had been planning to perform a Beethoven symphony cycle to mark its 40th anniversary and the composer’s 250th.

But its director Caroline Brown (below) died of cancer two and a half years ago, still planning the cycle from her hospital bed, and then Covid-19 struck and all performances were cancelled.

Undaunted, the pioneering period instrument ensemble are going into Stationers Hall in London this week to complete a recording of eight symphonies (the 9th will have to wait). The band raised £163,000 for 14 days of recording. The symphonies will be released from October.

UPDATE: The cycle is being conducted by Benjamin Bayl, whom Caroline Brown appointed Associate Director of the Band.



  • Devil Eire says:

    Wiener Akademie have already recorded a Beethoven cycle on gut without valves. The best one done so far. Recorded in venues where they were first performed.

    Here is their Eroica

    • John Borstlap says:

      Wonderful performance… of a wonderful work, as fresh as it was when written.

      The less it is played and recorded, the better, so that it be something special instead of supermarket fare.

    • Cubs Fan says:

      Thanks for that link. I enjoyed this very, very much. Such clarity of sound – you don’t need huge orchestras like the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonics to make Beethoven exciting and sound right. The natural horns sound fantastic and the players are top notch – rarely have I heard the trio in the scherzo sound so wonderful. I’ve got to look into their set.

  • icebreaker says:

    I have admired their previous recording of the cycle on Nimbus for some time – good luck with this one and hopefully the 9th will follow in due course.

  • A R Tachauer-Yates says:

    This is a test comment.

  • Hermann van Clomp says:

    They have already done a cycle with Roy Goodman earlier on the Nimbus label. Is there any significant difference with their new one?

  • Gravesfan says:

    if indeed, she died 2 year ago… and buried… then by now she is only a skeleton at most

  • Edgar Self says:

    I like Roy Goodman’s first “Eroica” with Hannover Band.

    A recent recording by Grossmann and Vienna group called, and numbering, “28” players, the same strength as Beethoven’s first forces, is recorded in the same place as the semi-private venue. to great effect. His horns are the best I’ve heard anywhere, in the scherzo’s trio, scored for horn trio, clarinet and skittering basses, an instrumentation Stravinsky admired for originality.

    A note from Beethoven to the premiere’s organizer pathetically reads ,”I must be sure of at least four good violins.” Orchestral administration was simpler then.

    My live “Eroica’s” have been Dorati/DSO, Sir Colin Davis/LSO, and Schmidt-Isserstedt/NDR. The best “Eroica” I’ve ever heard or can dream of is the 1944/VPO Furtwaengler: epic, Greco-classic granitic, with magnificent basses, tempi, and shattering funeral march and fugue. It starts with two thermo-nuclear detonations, Will and Idea.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      As much as I greatly admire Toscanini’s recorded Eroicas, and those of E. Kleiber and Karajan, I must agree with you, Edgar.
      That live 1944 Furtwaengler/VPO Eroica is THE ONE. It’s the one I have in my mind’s ear when I think of this work.
      But if you are just talking about the horns in the scherzo, It’s Toscanini 1939 and the Berv brothers all the way. They play as if with one mind. No one else, before or after, came close to them.
      Hope you survived the conventions! – regards, Greg

      • Edgar Self says:

        Greg Bottini,– The Berv brothers are a grand tio and story. To add to their history, one of their sons posted here in a good discussion of his father and uncles at the Met, NYPSO, and NBCSO among other family groups of orchestral players;

        I Adolf Busch’s Bach suites, Brandenburgs, and Mozart divertimento with Aubrey Brain father and son Dennis. and Aubrey’s brother Alfred Brain of the American Horn Society; and tfive-generation members of the Vienna Philharmonic. The VPO’s peculiar horns and oboes, five-sttring basses, and leather drum-heads led some to call them a ahip group, which draws smiles. The VPO itself owns many of those instruments

        I’m thinking of other Berv brothers’ records with Toscanini: Waltz of the Flowers; R. and J. Strauss, Siegfried’s Rhein Journey with Humperdinck’s concert ending; and Rose Bampton’s “bscheulicher, wo eilst du hin?” from “Fidelio”. How they they in Beethoven’s Eighth minuet/trio? I’ve never heard it.

  • Devil Eire says:

    I wonder what dear auld Ludwig would make of music composed in 2020 or for that matter the last 20 years or the last century. Most probably he would say a pile of tatt.

    He once said I write for the cultured not the gallery, my music is for those who live in the future.

    I also wonder what he would make of how is music is performed. He did not write a guide book, he was fussy about expression markings and phrasing the odd bum note did not matter so much. As for metronome numbers, these are problematic, especially in the ninth. I once heard it under 60 mins, 56 mins, it was like driving in a Triumph Spitfire on the seat of one’s pants down a wee country lane. Yes it can be done in under an hour, but it sounded awfully rushed and the choir had trouble keeping up.

    • John Borstlap says:

      B did read the ciphers on the metronome wrongly: getting mixed-up with the ciphers above and under the little block.

  • Jay says:

    WHY ! ????What a dreadful move !!!! Yet another
    Beethoven cycle .???? Why in heavens name ?????

  • James L says:

    It is not a traditional CD recording; the concerts that would have taken place throughout the year to celebrate the group’s 40th anniversary are now being recorded with video & audio. They will be streamed – one Symphony a week – during the Autumn.