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It would be hard to gather three higher-profile soloists than Mutter, Ma and Barenboim for Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, still something of a Cinderella amongst his orchestral output. For anyone still unconvinced of its musical merits, this new account is as fine as any, the playing of the three soloists absolutely ideal for ensemble and intonation. Their mutual understanding shines through in an account that is simply a joy to hear. Th e concluding Rondo all Pollacca catches perfectly what Mutter calls the ‘underlying mood of life- affi rming celebration’. Th e brief central Largo, which dovetails into the finale in a similar manner to the contemporaneous Fourth Concerto, is ideally shaped, contrasting beautifully with the outer spans. The Allegro’s hushed opening is finely achieved, setting the tone for the rest of the performance.

Issued to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the recording of the Triple Concerto also marked another milestone, the 20th birthday of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the barrier-breaking brainchild of Barenboim and Edward Said. Whatever one’s view of Barenboim’s and Said’s initiative from a political standpoint, there’s no denying the excellence of the orchestra’s playing and musicality, exemplified in this fine account of the Seventh Symphony. This would not be my first choice recording of the symphony – it is not quite as vividly conceived as those by Kleiber, Chailly or the late Charles Mackerras – but as a foil to the Triple Concerto, it more than passes muster.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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