Osmo Vänskä

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7

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Crisp colors, clean textures, and bracing tempos have been the hallmarks of Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra's series of recordings of Beethoven's nine symphonies. This approach works better in some works than others. The Third, for example, though tight and firm, was too light to deal with the weighty issues of the music. But this coupling of the Second and Seventh is much more successful. Both works are among the slighter in Beethoven's canon, and the Second's racing tempos and the Seventh's buoyant rhythms respond much better to Vänskä's treatment. As previously in his cycle, Vänskä finds new things in these familiar scores -- details of articulation in the Second's opening Adagio, for example, and rhythmic inflections in the Seventh's Allegretto -- that make the music sound new, and his direct, unaffected interpretations make it sound fresh. And as always, the Minneapolis-based orchestra plays deftly for its Finnish leader: the ensemble is seamless, the balances flawless, and the enthusiasm infectious. Recorded in BIS' best super audio digital sound, this may be the disc to start with if you're thinking of trying the Vänskä/Minnesota cycle.

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