Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sony's re-launched Essential Classics series now sports rather Spartan graphics that seem to be aimed at Wal-mart shoppers rather than classical collectors. But this decidedly downscale look is no reflection on the first-class music-making of George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. For decades Szell's Beethoven cycle has been justly hailed as one of the best on discs, and the reasons are clear: lively and dramatic interpretations that are true to the Beethovenian spirit married to simply spectacular orchestral playing. The Eroica, with its bracing opening movement (with the climactic trumpet line played all the way through, thank you!), has all the drive, energy, and clarity of many of today's so-called authentic performances, but with
more robust strings and fuller-bodied horns. However it's in the finale, with its sizzling coda played at breakneck speed with perfect brass articulation, where Szell clobbers the competition.
Szell doesn't pull any punches in the Eighth, either. The first movement's joyous tension never flags, while the inner movements move at refreshingly quick paces. Only the finale feels slower than today's norm, but Szell pegs it brilliantly, making its complex structure crystal clear and highlighting the first trumpet's insistent commentary (making it a pre-echo of the Ninth's famous scherzo). Sony's remastering, already a handsome restoration of the original Columbia recordings from 1957 and 1962, sounds exactly the same as the last Essential Classics release, which had far more appealing cover art. [3/26/2002]
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 1957
Length: 47 Minutes 20 Secs.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 1962
Length: 26 Minutes 44 Secs.
II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
IV. Finale. Allegro molto
I. Allegro vivace e con brio
II. Allegretto scherzando
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