- Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
- Symphony No. 6 in F major ("Pastoral"), Op. 68
On this 2011 release, Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 6 in F major, Pastoral," and the "Symphony No. 8 in F major" receive exceptional live performances that draw from Classical period practice, even though the Manchester Camerata is a modern ensemble that mostly plays the music in mainstream interpretations. Here and there, the strings may play with little or no vibrato, or the winds may add a peculiar coloring that is reminiscent of original instruments, but if these renditions resemble historically informed performances, it's largely due to the small size of the Manchester Camerata, which consists of only 33 musicians. With an orchestra that small in size, lean in texture, and transparent in sound, Beethoven's music almost automatically takes on a period quality that is quite comparable to the results of groups that cultivate a scholarly approach. Douglas Boyd conducted this chamber orchestra in Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, which has wonderfully responsive acoustics that enhance the instrumental colors, and the sound seems almost as clean as if this had been a studio recording. The clarity of the inner parts is remarkable, so some careful microphone placement must be credited. But the orchestra warrants high praise for its musicianship, and Boyd deserves critical appreciation for this excellent recording.