2018-08-23 00:35:10 UTC
I vote for the Beethoven Sixth.
I have one great recording (I won't say perfect, even though that's what I think) -- Monteux with the Vienna Philharmonic. Listening to to a set of Beethoven LPs I'd just purchased, Bohm with the Vienna Phil., I was dismayed, after enjoying Bohm's First, at how pedestrian his Sixth was. So I hauled out every Sixth I had around at the moment -- Bernstein, Vienna Phil., Furtwangler 1944 (Berlin} and '54 (Vienna), Jochum with the Berlin Phil., and Harnoncourt with the COE. Harnoncourt is just quirky, lots of lunging accents; Jochum is almost impossibly slow but does capture some of the vital pastoral mood/moods; both Furtwanglers edge close to the ideal but not close enough for me, both too slow for one thing, though not as slow as Jochum, and I find some of F's point-making a bit too "conductorial"; Bernstein is so fussy with dynamics that this pretty much becomes what the performance is about; Bohm, as the Brits say, is just po-faced.
And Monteux? A perfect flowing tempo for the first movement -- why doesn't anyone else capture what he does? -- and from then to the end I sit there stunned, absorbed, you name it. In particular, what a simple piece of music it seems in Monteux's hands up to a point, and then one feels (I feel) that it is in fact not simple at all.
Any other candidates for the "most difficult famous piece to get right?" Or candidates for a Sixth that surpasses Monteux's?