Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
This is a "concept" album, and one that works very well. The concept in question is the dance tune that found its way into the finale of the Prometheus ballet as well as the Eroica Symphony (and the set of piano variations not included here). It's a good idea, and one that illuminates the symphony in a particularly gratifying way. After all, the finale always has been seen as its most problematic movement both formally and expressively (it's extremely well-played here), and having the chance to follow Beethoven's favorite early tune through its various iterations gives us the opportunity to consider what it must have meant to him
personally, and what its simple charm tells us about his aesthetic--what Tovey defined as the special quality that "the greatest victories are always won in common daylight."
Manze's performance of the "Eroica" also is surprising. He doesn't ride the "period-instrument" bandwagon at all. This is a lyrical, elegant performance characterized above all by crisp string playing and clear, well-balanced textures. Trumpets and drums aren't as prominent as in most HIP-influenced interpretations, not even in the first-movement coda, where Manze tones down the brass so that the first half of the main theme blends better with its brass-less second half. The funeral march is grave and gorgeous, even old fashioned. It times out at more than 16 minutes, where some period-instrument folks bring it in at less than 12. The great fugue is particularly impressive: Manze really grinds it out with grim intensity.
I can imagine that some listeners might want a more anguished and eruptive interpretation. The first-movement development section, for example, lacks those volcanic climaxes that others have brought to it. However, taken on its own terms, and with the very enlightening couplings, this well-played, well-engineered SACD multichannel release remains a most attractive option.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Andrew Manze, the gifted violinist and conductor usually associated with the Baroque era, here leads the Helsingborg Orchestra in Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, a work described by Arnold Schoenberg as forever "modern." Let's face it; the "Eroica" is a fantastically imaginative, bold and timeless piece...This album also follows a theme, a dance melody Beethoven used in the symphony's last movement variations is found in other works including his lighthearted "12 Contretanze" and an excerpt from the ballet "Creatures of Prometheus". The child-like exuberance in Beethoven's personality permeates this tune and its fun to hear it wandering through several contrasting scores. If you like Beethoven rhythmically precise and less heart-on-sleeve, these performances are for you.
-- Greg La Traille, ArkivMusic.com
Works on This Recording
Contradances (12), WoO 14 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria
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