Eschenbach and Beethoven
Re “Eschenbach conducts Beethoven’s Sixth: One small question”—
Dan Coren raises an interesting question in his comment on Christoph Eschenbach’s Beethoven Sixth performance. But questions are more interesting than answers. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if I would have shared Mr. Coren’s misgivings. Beethoven said, in discussing the marking he had placed on one work, "But feeling also has its tempo."
In his book Sixteen Symphonies, the violist Bernard Shore relates how Toscanini, in rehearsal, hastily stopped the orchestra at that fourth measure, insisting, "No ritenuto before the pause!" But if you listen to any of his recorded performances of the work, there is indeed a ritenuto, albeit a small one— happily, despite Toscanini’s theoretical position, he was too good a musician to steam straight into the pause without holding up just a bit beforehand.
April 3, 2006
Editor’s note: The writer was formerly musicologist for the Philadelphia Orchestra.