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Interesting to compare this with François-Xavier Roth’s recent account, also on HM. Harding’s is a more traditional take, against Roth’s deconstructivism; Harding gives the lyricism space (he’s better recorded, too). Harding’s is also a reading that grows in stature on repeated listening, and the Swedish players are at their very best. He has patience, which means the opening Funeral March evolves not only grimly but inevitably, too.

Perhaps the ingredient missing in Harding’s Fifth is wildness. The second movement in particular just misses the requisite rawness; and it is a shame the excellent solo horn in the third movement is not named, as he or she is clearly a fine player. The Adagietto finds the Swedish strings in silky form, eloquent and beautiful, but the climax is just a tad held back. The clarity Harding finds throughout, and particularly in the finale, is this interpretation’s strength.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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