Founded more than a quarter of a century ago, the Canadian group Tafelmusik is in some respects North America's equivalent of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. It's a period-instrument band grounded in the 18th century, and it has steadily expanded its horizons and made more and more incursions into the romantic repertoire. These are sure-footed Beethoven performances under Bruno Weil, with clean, detailed textures, lithe tempi and all the great dramatic moments carefully stage-managed.
In the Pastoral Symphony, for instance, the storm of the fourth movement really comes bursting out of a clear blue sky, while the transition from the spectral scherzo of the Fifth to the blazing affirmation of its finale is made to seem the most logical thing in the world. The result is a decent, if sometimes underpowered disc, leaving other period-instrument Beethoven recordings - by Gardiner, Norrington or Brüggen - more recommendable.