Martin Haselböck / Wiener Akademie Orchester

Re-Sound: Beethoven Symphonies 1 & 2

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It's increasingly common to hear the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven played on original instruments and according to authentic period practices, which have become de rigueur for many contemporary conductors and orchestras. But Martin Haselböck and the Vienna Academy Orchestra go one step further by playing them in their original Viennese venues, thus creating something close to the sound and impact of the first performances. For this first installment of the Re-Sound Beethoven series, the Symphony No. 1 in C major was recorded in the Imperial and Royal National Court Theatre, where it was premiered in 1800, while the Symphony No. 2 in D major was recorded in the Theater an der Wien, the site of its debut in 1803. Anyone sensitive to the nuances of different acoustics may form some idea of the sounds Beethoven's audiences experienced, and possibly feel a bit of the thrill of brushing up against history. Yet as worthy as these performances are, for both the freshness of the interpretations and the vitality and beauty of the playing, to make out the different effects of the acoustics one needs exceptional headphones or high-quality CD equipment. Otherwise, these are still first-rate recordings of Beethoven in historically informed style, and they sound terrific, even if the halls' unique aural qualities aren't fully discernable. Highly recommended.

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