The overture is the very same one included in tandem with the conductor's Beethoven 5th on LO-CD781, which I also reviewed here. It was also my favorite portion of that disc, a sizzling account with both the conductor and London Philharmonic on top form. As I've written previously, the mere fact that these discs are available at all will have some collectors going wild; they have been very hard to find and very expensive. I didn't like Carlos Païta's Beethoven 5th, but I find his 7th to be more palatable.
For one, although the "Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra" still isn't going to win any awards for polish, the sound is much better. Recorded in Kingsway Hall, the orchestra sounds much better in this particular space. This means more natural balances between sections, crucial in this work. It also allows the listener to assess this ensemble more clearly, and while strings and brass are less impressive overall, the winds actual have a great deal of character. But oh, that brass. It's a weird timbre, and won't be to all tastes. On the podium, Carlos Païta seems more engaged here than in his 5th, he really drives the rhythms convincingly. I actually like the third movement a lot; the conductor really knows how to generate excitement, and the slower sections are an effective contrast. The last movement is a whirlwind, and if the playing and sound were consistently top notch, this could be a prime recommendation. As it stands, you get the feeling that things want to rush (or at least fluctuate) a bit too much, and the orchestra is notably taxed.
Still, this is largely a more impressive way to get to know Païta than his rather straightforward 5th. And again, that overture is a knockout; tense, urgent, and well-played. The notes are original; Albany is just distributing, not reissuing. The sound is OK. A very fun disc, if not one for the ages.
Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman