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Simon Thompson
MusicWeb International, December 2011

Christian Thielemann and the crack players of the Vienna Philharmonic argue that perhaps there is still life the old school of Beethoven interpretation, and they (mostly) succeed convincingly. © MusicWeb International

Simon Thompson
MusicWeb International, November 2011

In some ways this is a try-before-you-buy set, as Thielemann’s interpretative decisions won’t be to everyone’s taste. However, the playing and the presentation surely will. The Vienna Philharmonic clearly enjoy a very close relationship with this conductor and they seem to relish the opportunity to play with him. The beauty of the string sound and the character of the wind playing are second to none, and they are captured brilliantly in the splendour of the Muskiverein. Furthermore, the quality of the surround sound is excellent: the centre speaker is perhaps a little too prominent, but the immersive experience is most effective. Each director manages to capture the picture well too, putting the eye where the ear suggests it should be…

…this set would demand the attention of most music-lovers. Thielemann’s Beethoven is rigorous, intellectual and well considered, even if you don’t always agree with him, and the playing is outstanding throughout. Unitel has given us an interpretation which won’t replace the classics but is worthy to sit alongside them, a bold attempt to recapture and redefine Beethoven for the 21st century.

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