Antonio Pappano / Mario Brunello

Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"; Cello Concerto

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This live double CD of Antonin Dvorák's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World" and the Cello Concerto may put listeners in two minds. On one hand, it's hard to fault Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia for the refreshing interpretations and precise musical execution in both performances, and cellist Mario Brunello is exceptionally dramatic and vivid in his solo turn at the concerto. On the other, a veritable plague of sound defects seems to have descended on these recordings, largely from the close microphone placement that picks up every random noise from the musicians, as well as the general rustling one expects of a concert audience. The playing is wonderfully expressive and vibrantly colorful, and Pappano is in fine form, drawing out coherent and powerful readings of both pieces that are full of passion and imagination. Yet the continual presence of flaws in the audio is distracting enough to pull the listener out of the music again and again; in many instances, it seems to be Pappano's heavy breathing in the quietest sections that causes the most annoyance. Perhaps repeated listening will inure some listeners to these problems, but a high tolerance for extraneous noises is required for most others.

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