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These deeply serious and ambitious symphonies must above all be approached as quasi-orchestral in style rather than as vehicles for virtuoso display. The challenge is to maintain as much clarity of musical argument as possible in the face of their predominantly dense textures. In my view, no.7 is the more interesting and original, whereas no.8 – for all its enormous scale – is less distinctive in melodic invention. With his measured tempi, Joseph Nolan brings them offto a considerable extent, but if the result is a little pedestrian and lacking in élan, the fault is on the right side. The medium-sized Cavaillé-Coll at La Madeleine proved a wise choice as being less likely to overpower the music.

ANDREW THOMSON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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