Riccardo Muti

Beethoven: Complete Symphonies

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Recorded between 1985 and 1988, Riccardo Muti's cycle of Ludwig van Beethoven's symphonies offers mainstream interpretations that will satisfy most listeners' needs. The Philadelphia Orchestra is not as lush as it was in its heyday under Eugene Ormandy, because Muti is mindful of the essential Classical nature of these works. While he doesn't strive for a period sound, but uses modern instruments and conducts a full orchestra, his Beethoven is far from old-fashioned or stodgy. The listener who seeks an intelligent, coherent Beethoven set that meets expectations of great technical playing, accurate and expressive performances, and superb sound quality will be quite happy with this one and will not have to worry unduly about issues of historical authenticity. Muti takes repeats, follows conventional tempos, adheres to what's on the printed page, and makes no idiosyncratic changes or edits, so his Beethoven is uncontroversial and all the better for it. Included as rather spectacular filler is Muti's 1977 recording with Sviatoslav Richter of the Piano Concerto No. 3, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Leonore Overture No. 3, the Fidelio Overture, and The Consecration of the House Overture, all with the Philadelphians. Bearing in mind that these are early digital recordings (with the exception of the Richter performance, which is analog), the sound is excellent for its time and quite warm and vibrant.

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