Jaap van Zweden / Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

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Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor and the Symphony No. 7 in A major late in 2007, and the concerts were recorded by the orchestra's own label, DSO Live. Judged on the obvious high energy of the orchestra, the welcome inclusion of some historically informed practices, and the rave reviews received after the concerts, the performances apparently deserved the high praise they garnered. But one drawback of this CD is the cold and dry reproduction, which presents the music in what seems an unrepresentative way. One could never tell from the audio whether the McDermott Concert Hall of the Meyerson Symphony Center has responsive acoustics that smoothed over and burnished the orchestra's sound, or if the slight inaccuracies of entrances and the slightly rough ensemble blend are what come from close-up recording in an airless environment. What might have sounded fresh and carefully timed for the audience seems to have had a different effect on the recording, which resembles the primitive digital sound of the 1980s, rather than the warm and resonant reproduction possible in contemporary state-of-the-art technology. There is a lack of dimension to the sound as well, which makes it difficult to tell whether it's due to unfortunate microphone placement or inexpert engineering. Because there are so many excellent recordings of these symphonies available on the major labels, this CD is of limited interest to fans of the DSO and few others.

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