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Penguin Guide, January 2009

BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 1–3 2050609
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 4–6 2050639
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 7–9 2050669

Michael Gielen’s cycle with the South-West Radio Orchestra in Baden-baden was recorded at public performances between 1997 and 2000. They are unidiosyncratic readings, positive and very well played. Exposition repeats are observed, ensemble is polished and there is both warmth and commitment from the players. Pacing of allegros is usually vigorous—the first movement of the Eroica notably so…The Fifth has plenty of impulse in the outer movements and a warm slow movement, the Seventh an exciting finale. But it is the even-numbered symphonies that stay in the memory, notably Nos. 2 and 4, with No. 8 finest of all—a splendid account. They are beautifully played and have genuine spontaneity…Overall, the sound is well balanced, natural and with the kind of range one would expect from well-balanced broadcast sessions…the audience…are remarkably unobtrusive, until their applause makes one remember their presence.

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