Riccardo Chailly / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

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The Gewandhaus Orchestra's history of playing the nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven extends back to 1825, when the composer was still alive, and these masterworks have been a mainstay of its repertoire ever since. After Riccardo Chailly took the helm of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in 2005, the idea of performing the full cycle for Decca under his direction became an imperative, and these recordings of the Symphony No. 7 in A major and the Symphony No. 8 in F major were made in 2008 and 2009, respectively, with the Overture to The Ruins of Athens and the Egmont Overture also recorded in 2009. Chailly's Beethoven draws on the traditions of performance long honored in Leipzig, so the interpretations of the symphonies have more than a little of historically informed practice about them while still being mainstream performances. Tempos are generally brisk, and textures are immaculate, while the strings play with minimal vibrato, and the winds offer distinctive and colorful sonorities. So the ideals of authentic period practice are realized without annoying mannerisms, and the music has the dynamic flexibility and robust qualities that everyone wants in Beethoven. Decca's sound quality is crisp and clean, with nearly ideal resonance.

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