Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons

(CD - BR Klassik #900137)

Review by Blair Sanderson

Mariss Jansons' live Beethoven cycle on BR Klassik is notable for the inclusion of new works by contemporary composers that provide a fresh perspective on the symphonies and demonstrate Beethoven's lasting influence in the 21st century. Positioned between the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra's enthusiastic performances of the Symphony No. 7 in A major and the Symphony No. 8 in F major is Jörg Widmann's Con brio (2008), a concert overture commissioned by Jansons and inspired by the gestures and ideas found in these symphonies, though direct quotations were avoided. This is a fragmented and abrupt essay on Beethoven's pugnacious mannerisms, and while almost anybody versed in his style can make out the close resemblance of certain chords and melodic snippets, it is still a challenging piece that will appeal most to fans of postmodern orchestral music. In any case, the Seventh and the Eighth are the most important works on this disc, and Jansons' straightforward and committed readings of these masterpieces will appeal to virtually all listeners.

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