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Beethoven: Symphonies No 3 & 8 / Vanska, Minnesota Orchestra

Release Date: 06/27/2006 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1516   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

There's no question that Osmo Vänskä is a true Beethoven conductor. He captures the music's vitality, its eruptive character, and its dramatic syntax as well as anyone on the podium today. He understands the importance of accents, of giving proper weight to Beethoven's bass lines, and of uncovering ear-catching detail without micro-managing the tempo and fracturing Beethoven's large musical paragraphs. The only quibble I have with this performance of the Eroica stems from Vänskä's otherwise admirable deployment of a very wide dynamic range. A couple
Read more of times he drops to a "super-duper" pianissimo so quiet that you can barely hear the music, causing it to momentarily lose tension. This only happens a couple of times, most notably at the point of the first-movement recapitulation, and it's so unnecessary given the general excellence of the interpretation that you wonder why he bothers.

One thing is certain: this is one of the finest performances of the Funeral March ever recorded. It has everything--fabulous playing, an ideal tempo (it never drags), and most importantly, rhythm. After all, this is a march, and Vänskä's attention to the music's rhythmic underpinning makes this a totally gripping experience. Right from the first bars, with the basses really digging into their accompaniment figures while still keeping the volume appropriately soft, you know that this is going to be special. Notice also how in the first trio section the climactic fanfare has more power the second time it returns, evidence of a real long-term approach to what after all is a very long movement. This is simply stunning. The scherzo has great zest, with sensational horn playing, and the finale never begs the question of whether it's too light for what has come before. In short, this is an excellent performance, one that hardly needs to score an extra point or two with those attention-grabbing pianissimos.

The performance of the Eighth Symphony is perfect. There's plenty of buoyancy in the first movement, with a really rip-roaring charge into the recapitulation. The tick-tock second movement has a deliciously witty spring to its step, and here Vänskä's characterful approach to dynamics really enhances the sly exchanges between orchestral sections. I also love this big, juicy minuet, full of tongue-in-cheek pomp and circumstance, while the finale breezes by with joyous insouciance. It doesn't get any better, and happily the sonics, which are magnificently natural in both stereo and surround formats, are just as good as the performances. There are many excellent versions of the Eroica, fewer of the Eighth, and other listeners may well value the performance of the former for just those touches that struck me as a mite gratuitous. Certainly the overall quality maintains the high standard already established for this series and whets the appetite for the next installment.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Also Available - Beethoven: Symphonies No 4 & 5 / Vänskä, Minnesota Orchestra
"These performances are as compelling as any, beautifully realized in every respect. Music lovers purchasing this remarkable disc will find ample cause for delight, and there's plenty that even the most jaded Beethoven collectors have never heard before, or heard so well." -- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota 
Length: 49 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota (06/2005 - 01/2006) 
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota 
Length: 25 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota (06/2005 - 01/2006) 

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