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De Vriend’s interpretations give real pleasure as a generous recorded acoustic add depth to Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8.
Repertoire: Symphonies Nos 7 and 8
Artists: Netherlands Symphony Orchestra/ Jan Willem de Vriend
Label: Challenge Classics CC72500
The Music: Beethoven completed his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies in 1812, rounding out a decade of amazing creativity. True to form, the two works are utterly different: while the Seventh is about compulsive rhythmic energy, the shorter Eighth is a masterpiece of roguish humour.
The Performance: This orchestra uses either period instruments themselves (the brass), or plays modern ones in period style. A generous recorded acoustic helps to keep any excessive dryness at arm’s length. For once, instead of the usual emphasis on the music’s driven obsessiveness, Beethoven’s engaging streak is brought out – and not just in the Eighth (whose wry antics of course thrive on it.) The Seventh’s huge paragraphs here unfold with a bounding flair that does real justice to the composer’s capacity for joy, besides all the firepower.
The Verdict: As long as you’re not allergic to performances played in period style, then these are among the best of their kind.
Want More? Besides two earlier volumes this Beethoven symphonies series (Nos 4 and 6 on Challenge CC72361, Nos 1 and 5 on CC72364), the same team has recorded the Violin Concerto and Romances, with soloist Liza Ferschtman (CC72384).