Anima Eterna / Jos van Immerseel LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphonies - Ouvertures

It's possible nowadays to get a cycle of the Beethoven symphonies to suit every musical taste - from the traditional big-band performances on the modern instruments of leading symphony orchestras, to the strictest of historically informed accounts from specialist period bands. Jos van Immerseel's accounts are close to the historically purist extreme of that spectrum; his Belgian orchestra Anima Eterna is modestly sized. There's much to admire in the performances too. His tempi are generally well judged, the playing is full of character and instinctive expressiveness, even if the pitch inflections in some of the woodwind solos are an acquired taste, and textures are unfailingly transparent. Yet there's something a bit too careful about it all, with a lack of sheer emotional clout in, for instance, the first movement of the Eroica, the finale of the Seventh Symphony, and through much of the Ninth. This is hardly Beethoven as a composer breaking free of the bounds of classicism, but much more someone with their feet still very much anchored in the 18th century. (Andrew Clements / The Guardian)

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