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Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Haitink

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Haitink

LSO Live  LSO0580

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica", Leonore Overture No. 2

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink (conductor)


Beethoven took a massive stride forward in the development of the symphonic form with the 'Eroica'. Not only is the work written on an unprecedented scale, it also lays the very foundations of Romanticism in music.The symphony mirrors Beethoven's own emergence from despair and he used it to symbolize mankind's capacity for greatness. He initially dedicated the score to Napoleon whom embodied his view of greatness. However, when Napoleon crowned himself Emperor, Beethoven furiously removed the dedication from the score.

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Review by John Broggio - October 3, 2006

As with other releases in this masterly series from LSO Live, Haitink judges the pace of all the constituent movements with the added wisdom of making them all hang together as a whole. The playing is simply faultless and is not just musically exciting; there is a deep physicality to the LSO's commitment of which the BPO would be proud to display.

The long line is present from beginning to end with innumerable felicities illuminated along the way; every accent is marked, as is every pp & p marking observed. This is very different Beethovenian playing to Vanska's. Rather than going for the hyper-quiet that is favoured by many these days, Haitink extols the traditional values of getting it "right". The opening movement is treated with all the majesty the writing suggests (exposition repeat convincingly included) and then the Funeral March is deeply intense with dramatically hushed strings and eloquent woodwinds.

The scherzo has some very virtuostic playing, particularly from the horns. The Finale, rightly, steals the show with all the elements being melded into a glowing melting pot of ideas by Beethoven; the LSO under Haitink respond as if it were the last time they would ever be able to play or hear this marvellous music. It is so convincing that one can almost not conceive of it being performed in any other way. I also really regret the decision of LSO Live to expunge what must have been a stupendous ovation from the audience who are impressively quiet.

The Leonore Overture No 2 is played with the same refined energy and commitment - with such a glorious account one hopes that the LSO might consider breaking their "Live" rule and compiling a disc or two of the remaining great overtures of Beethoven with Haitink; if they can be programmed as encores or "appetisers" then so much the better.

The sound, as with other releases in this wholly remarkable cycle, is the best that the LSO have acheived yet from the Barbican - no hindrance to the experience (and what an experience!) in any way at all; this cycle is getting hard to remove from the SACD player & leads me to wonder if it is possible to overdose on a composer!

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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