Originally Posted by Manton
Norrigton is a gimmick monger. Original metronome settings! Ooooh! It's really fast!
Blech. Sounds like a 33 played on 45.
Actually, Beethoven's metronome markings for the 9th work amazingly well-- except for the 2 misprints, which Norrington plays as printed.
Among other small things, you'll note that when played at tempo, the string sextuplets at the very end of the 3rd movement are exactly as fast as the ones a the opening of the 1st. A little cloud passing over the sun as the final benediction arrives. And while I haven't taken a poll, it's my impression that most conductors play the quotes from the first 3 more or less in tempo in the 4th, even if they mangled things earlier on.
I don't know what went wrong with Norrington's recordings. He did a whole series of things in Boston that were far better-- with the Boston Early Music Festival and the BSO. Turns out the BSO musicians didn't like him, but they sounded great when he was onstage. At the BEMF, he did a great Idomeneo, and a Haydn Seasons that was truly remarkable. I also heard/saw a fantastic demo he did with BEMF of classical minuets with dancers that induced me to buy the LCP discs of Haydn symphonies-- which turned out to be pretty mediocre.