Beethoven symphonies even more present and insistent with period instruments

On May 28, 2013 |

Musical Toronto


Listening to Philharmonia Baroque under music director Nicholas McGegan (a regular and welcome guest with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra) is a thrill. Beethoven’s weird modulations, dramatic pauses and sudden emphases and overall seeking for dramatic scope and contrast all come vividly to life.

On this album, released by Philharmonic Baroque Productions (the orchestra’s in-house audio-marketing arm, similar toTafelmusik Media), McGegan has paired the relatively (for Beethoven) well-ordered Symphony No. 4 (which is on Tafelmusik’s programme with conductor Bruno Weil), with the boundingly dramatic Symphony No. 7.

McGegan deserves a lot of credit for the extra-fine detail in these excellent, edge-of-my-seat performances. Above all, it’s his sense of pacing — of knowing exactly when to speed up, when to pull back, when to let the notes tumble into each other and when to keep us waiting for more — that makes this album far more magnetic than the average performance by a modern symphony orchestra.

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