Vladimir Jurowski / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"; Overture, Fidelio

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Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra have not yet recorded a full Beethoven cycle, though if they plan one, this live recording of the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica" would make an impressive kickoff. While some conductors emphasize the symphony's expansive framework by delivering measured and dignified performances, Jurowski instead plays up the music's muscularity and pugnacity by delivering a tight and forceful reading. Running to just over 48 minutes, including repeats, this 2014 performance tends toward the brisk side, and Jurowski not only pushes the tempo but also highlights the many syncopations and tremolos that build excitement in the first movement. To avoid breaking the symphony's propulsion, Jurowski takes the Marcia funebre at a relaxed Adagietto, rather than the weightier Adagio assai, as marked, and picks up the momentum with a vigorous Scherzo and a jaunty Finale, played attacca not to waste a moment. Beyond the sheer energy of the playing and the alert pacing, this performance is strong on details and transparent textures, and newcomers to the "Eroica" will find this recording ideal for study. The disc also includes a lively 2015 performance of the Overture to Fidelio, the last of Beethoven's four overtures to his only opera. LPO's recorded sound is clean and virtually free of extraneous noises.

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