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Steinberg was much admired for his sterling musicianship; the breadth of his repertory, which included much contemporary music; the clarity and precision of his technique; his wit and pipe-smoking geniality; and the collegial relationships he established and maintained with his musicians.
Steinberg conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra many times in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and No.8 as well as Symphony No. 55. One is struck at how clean and natural the performance on this excerpt is, without any loss of intensity or excitement. Steinberg is not a manipulator, and although his technique is minimalistic, it is also remarkably full and detailed, and he has the instict of an actor – every movement he makes, every gesture and every glance, is full of character and expression. He smiles when a detail falls exactly into place.
There is a wonderful swing in the trio of Scherzo, and Steinberg uses his elbows as much as his baton to get the point accross – it looks as if he were on a horseback and using the reins to guide the music. The finale is fast and exciting, but never hard-driven or forced; Steinberg seems to have an internal gyroscope and nothing throws him, or the orchestra, off balance
The BSO is a big machine, but Steinberg knows how to turn it on a dime – he manages shifts and contrasts of tempo without lurching.
Joseph Haydn, Symphony No. 55 in E flat Major, Hob. I:55
1. Allegro di molto
2. Adagio, ma semplicemente
3. Menuetto e Trio
4. Finale: Presto
Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
1. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
3. Presto – Assai meno presto
4. Allegro con brio
Joseph Silverstein in conversation about William Steinberg
Directed by: William Cosel
Venue: Boston Symphony Hall (Boston, USA)
Production date: 2012
Recording date: 7/10/1969 (Haydn), 6/10/1970 (Beethoven)
Duration: 1 h 00 min
Production: © Boston Symphony Orchestra & WGBH Educational Foundation under exclusive licence to International Classical Artists Ltd
Clear, precise and expressive, Steinberg presents three first rate performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Renowned for his uncomplicated yet expressive musical style, Steinberg’s technical mastery is evident.
The ICA Classics Legacy series represents an historic account of performances by some of the world’s greatest artists. This DVD features some of the earliest televised concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under their Music Director William Steinberg.
While the material has been restored using the greatest care and state-of-the-art techniques, certain visual artifacts and distortions remain in some instances due to the age of the film. Despite this, it remains of exceptional musical interest and historic value and is released here for the first time on DVD.