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Album: Beethoven, Symphonies 4 and 7 - Bell/Academy of St Martin in the Fields (Sony)


Last April, in his first concert as St Martin's conductor and concertmaster, violinist Joshua Bell's direction of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony seemed awkward and effortful.

Eleven months later, there's a winning fluidity to the collaboration. Bell's semi-historical approach involves sheer textures and blistering speeds, sweetened here and there with soloistic vibrato. The Seventh could do with more mist and awe but the dances are tightly and brightly pointed.