Paavo Järvi / Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7

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These are challenging performances of Beethoven's Fourth and Seventh symphonies. They are challenging partly because they use the Neue Urtext Edition from Bärenreiter for both works, thereby altering hundreds of details of phrasing and articulation from all earlier editions. And part of it is that the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie is a chamber-sized orchestra, thereby clarifying lines and lightening textures like few full-sized orchestras can. But most of it is that Järvi and the Bremen musicians rip into these pieces as if these were world-premiere performances and therefore delivering performances with the kind of enthusiasm and dedication one rarely hears in classical music recordings. Järvi's tempos are consistently on the quick side, especially in finales, but his control of both the music and the musicians is complete, and one never doubts that Järvi knows where he's going and how he's going to get there. With strong strings, characterful woodwinds, burnished brass, and muscular tympani, the Bremen orchestra is first rate in every department, and with its alert balances and tight ensemble, the musicians show they are really listening to each other. So if to some the attacks here seem too sharp, the colors too bright, the accents too powerful, there can be no doubting that this was exactly what the musicians meant to do, and, like it or not, these performances will make it hard to hear earlier performances the same way. Recorded by producer Philip Traugott for Sony BMG Masterworks at the Scoring Stage in Berlin in 2004 and 2005, the super audio sound here is amazingly clean and vivid.

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