Bernard Haitink

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8

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Bernard Haitink's live recordings of Ludwig van Beethoven's symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra most assuredly aren't the last word on these masterpieces (whose recordings ever could be?), but any collector looking for solid performances that satisfy most needs would do well to check out these remarkable CDs. For example, this 2006 disc of the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major and the Symphony No. 8 in F major will likely not amaze anyone with its fairly mainstream interpretations, secure execution, or dependable sound quality, because it wasn't meant to be a sensation. The reputable playing of this world-class ensemble guarantees that the scores are accurately presented, and Haitink's straightforward, intelligent approach to the music commends this CD to the average listener and the serious connoisseur alike. While Haitink tends to maintain slightly faster than usual tempos and keeps the orchestra's tone on the lean side, these are not intended to be "authentic" versions; yet they are as carefully thought through and as polished as any period performance might be, though without any overt mannerisms or antiquarian novelties. The sound is exceptionally clean and clear on these concert recordings, even in the resonant space of London's Barbican, and there is virtually no distracting audience noise to interfere with your listening pleasure.

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