Notes and Editorial Reviews
Prometheus, who defied the gods by stealing fire from Heaven and warming his clay figures into men, was a powerful symbol of romantic defiance, and to none more than Beethoven. What seems (from the synopsis, all that survives of the ballet's plot) to have been an entertainment on a very eighteenth-century idea, that of the hero providing Enlightenment for humanity through art and science, left Beethoven haunted by the gentle tune he wrote for the finale. He used it for piano variations and for a wind piece, finally making it the symbolically charged conclusion to his symphony incarnating the Hero Principle, the Eroica. In the ballet, it remains a blithe dance; and one of the qualities of Sir Charles Mackerras's performance is that although
the treatment of the theme is (at first) close enough to the Eroica finale to cause momentary deception, it is here played with a purely balletic grace innocent of any symphonic ambition.
Sir Charles opens with a vigorous account of the Overture, and takes clear delight in touching off the contrasting moods of what are sometimes very brief numbers. Even in such a gentle, unassuming movement as the ''Pastorale'', there is a grace and an originality of phrase to be found by a conductor with the ears to hear it. The longer solos for the dancers, especially that for the ballet's originator, Salvatore Vigano, contain rather more, but this is the lighter Beethoven, and played with an exact judgement of the weight. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra respond enthusiastically, and the recording is fresh and clear.
-- John Warrack, Gramophone [11/1994]
Works on This Recording
Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sir Charles Mackerras
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 04/1994
Venue: City Hall, Candleriggs, Glasgow
Length: 62 Minutes 42 Secs.
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