This is a quite wonderful disc, in which every demand one might have on a performance of these two great works is met, and then there are plenty of delightful surprises for even the most jaded listener too.
Though the chamber forces are smaller than they ever were for these works until 30 years ago, the sound is often generously rich, and the big moments are shattering – the climax of the storm in the Pastoral, brief though it is, had me running for cover, yet didn’t at all seem out of scale with the rest of the work.
The warmth and tenderness and ease which are the predominant features of the Pastoral have rarely been more affectionately attended to than by Paavo Järvi, balanced by the peasants’ merrymaking and its rude dispersal.
The Second, which can be hard to bring off, is ebullient, high-spirited without being exhausting, and with an idyllically smooth slow movement at its heart. The German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen is a versatile orchestra, able to meet the demands of its conductor.
RCA Red Seal