Yondani Butt / London Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8; Overtures

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Because of the growing movement for historically informed performances, it's quite common to hear the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven played nowadays on original instruments, conducted at brisk tempos, and delivered with the crisp rhythms and bright colors of authentic Classical style. However, Yondani Butt interprets Beethoven quite differently in this recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, and it's fair to say that his reading of the Symphony No. 8 in F major is a throwback, comparable in its pacing and execution to the mid-20th century style of conducting that was mainstream before the advent of period performance practice. This is no doubt great news to traditionalists who find period Beethoven to be too much of the same thing, though considering the decreasing number of mainstream renditions, there are probably fewer listeners who are still attached to this school of thought. This takes nothing away from Butt's musicality, and the LSO is, as always, technically secure and fully committed in its playing, as if it could play the Eighth like this any day of the week. That may be an indicator of what works with an orchestra of this size and experience, and the existence of this rather conventional and slightly stodgy Eighth shows that opinion has not been settled. Butt also includes four popular overtures to round out this package, and they are also old school in interpretation, so there are no surprises here, just familiar music in a reassuring, old-fashioned style.

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