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I prefer them on the whole but am not fanatical about them . In first movements which are shortish , such as with those of Haydn , it's wrong to omit them . In longer symphonies with longer firstmovements , it's not quite as damaging . Leaving the repeat out in the very short exposition
of the Beethoven 5th is a criminal offense , however, and some conductors, mainly in the past have done this , even eminent ones .
Interestingly , one of the last symphonies with an exposition repeat is the Rachmaninov 3rd, which dates from the 1930s . On his own recording conducting the Philadelphia orchestra , which I have, he omits it . Possibly this was due to the primitive recording techniques of the day where a disk could only last a few inutes , was the reason for this , but we'll never know . Whether the cmposer would have observed it in a live performance is anyone's guess .
As far as I know, the last symphony to have a repeat in the first movement is the 9th of Shostakoich , a neo-Haydnesque work .
 
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