- Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
- Leonore Overture No. 3 in C major, Op. 72b
Under Michael Tilson Thomas' leadership, the San Francisco Symphony has become one of the leading American ensembles, and super audio recordings on the orchestra's own label are among the finest in the catalog. These live recordings of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 7 in A major" and the "Leonore Overture No. 3" represent the orchestra at its best, playing with absolute clarity of tone colors, lines, and textures, and with true unity of purpose, while Tilson Thomas' interpretations are characteristically lucid, well-balanced, and buoyant. The program opens with the "Leonore Overture No. 3," which Beethoven composed for the 1806 revision of his opera "Fidelio," and this piece has found lasting success in the concert hall as one of the composer's most dramatic overtures. The "Symphony No. 7" is also tremendously popular, and widely regarded as Beethoven's most dance-like symphony. The performance of the first movement is radiant in feeling and fleet in tempo, and the articulation of the dotted rhythms is crisp and light, so this is Beethoven with little storminess or stress. The second movement, which has been frequently choreographed and performed separately as a "greatest hit," is poised and graceful, with a continuous sense of line that belies the steady chordal writing. Tilson Thomas is always keen to bring out humor and fun wherever he finds it, and there is no lack of either in the brisk Scherzo and the rambunctious Finale, which offer some of the most exciting playing these musicians have committed to SACD. The multichannel sound is remarkably deep and spacious, and the orchestra has terrific presence, with little incidental noise from the audience.