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Christopher Abbot
Fanfare, September 2007

BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 OC521
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 OC523
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos 7 & 8 OC524

After a quite majestic opening, the first movement of the First Symphony goes like a shot, outpacing even John Eliot Gardiner. It’s all a bit frenetic but undoubtedly exciting. It is followed by a very stately Andante cantabile con moto that is all Viennese elegance. …this is a splendid—and splendidly played—first salvo in the canon.

After a suitably dark and brooding opening, Skrowaczewski imbues the Allegro vivace of the Fourth Symphony’s first movement with tremendous élan, some measure of which is attributable to aforesaid string seating—phrases simply ping-pong between the first and second violins. This Adagio is quite moving in its conductor’s sensitive attention to nuance and phrasing.

The transparent quality of the sound aids the beauty of the performance of the “Pastoral” Symphony; it is impossible not to entertain cheerful feelings as the first movement commences. Orchestral detail is impressive but not obtrusive.

There is a commanding quality to the opening measures of the Seventh Symphony that makes one sit up and take notice. …joy is not unrestrained—more disciplined celebration than youthful good spirits. This approach doesn’t make it stodgy or boring, it just invests the music with a larger measure of gravitas.

The Eighth…is an unblemished delight. Skrowaczewski produces a taut, exciting first movement by keeping a tight rein on the rhythmic structure, thus avoiding any tendency toward inflation… The “archaic” quality of the Allegretto is very effectively limned, its sly smile barely concealed. Like any good comedy, it is at its best when produced seriously and without exaggeration. The Menuetto has charm and deceptive power—“real” Beethoven, after all. The unusual rhythm of the Trio is propelled by insistently chugging cellos. The grand finale, with its twists and turns, generates impressive momentum and caps a splendid performance. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review

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