Emmanuel Krivine

Beethoven: Complete Symphonies

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As the novelty of hearing the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven played on original instruments wears off, audiences have become more willing to appreciate historically informed performances, and the sounds of 18th and early 19th century instruments have become quite familiar to even the most casual classical listener. This is why Emmanuel Krivine's complete 2011 cycle with La Chambre Philharmonique will be more easily accepted than, say, the Hanover Band's pioneer recordings were in the 1980s and John Eliot Gardiner's revelatory set was in the 1990s, which were regarded by many at the time as rarefied items for connoisseurs. With the passage of years, the preciousness of period performance style has diminished and early music performers have learned to play authentically and with vigor, especially in these masterworks. Krivine likes his Beethoven brisk and brusque, so there's no fussiness nor any fetishizing of pristine sonorities: the energy of the music and the directness of the musicians won't permit it. Add to this extremely forward approach the rough-and-tumble excitement of La Chambre Philharmonique's live playing and the result is that these headlong performances will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. One striking feature of the recordings is the emphasis on the woodwind colors, which come to the fore and seem well-balanced with the strings, and even hold their own against the robust brass. As a side effect of the group's rambunctious playing, there are some peculiarities of tempo and dynamics that may not be strictly accurate, but allowing for the spontaneity of live performance, these quirks seem essential to the nature of the group. Naïve's reproduction puts the listener right in the middle of things, so absolutely nothing is missed. Highly recommended.

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