Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 7
Label: Sony Classical
Star violinist Bell kicks off his leadership as concertmaster of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with this all-Beethoven program. In keeping with the ensemble's classical-period aesthetic, these are lean and fleet renderings. The Fourth is sometimes neglected, though Bell & Co. delight in the sophistication of its second movement (as well as the hard-charging finale). And while their version of the über-familiar Seventh isn't as distinctive, it has moments of spark. You may not always want such brisk Beethoven, but when you do, this is a good way to go.