One might be surprised to see a historical-instrument performance of Beethoven's rarely danced and rarely performed ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43, appearing on the major Decca label. The explanation lies in the fast rise of the Greek ensemble Armonia Atenea and conductor George Petrou, who have released several acclaimed operatic recordings, mostly featuring music of the Baroque era. The Creatures of Prometheus may be an unexpected career move, but its sequence of dramatic gestures isn't foreign to Petrou's skill set, and he's actually had the sense to realize that this work would benefit more than most from historical-instrument treatment. Petrou envisions the ballet as a sort of dry run for the Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36; and Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 ("Eroica"), both of which it has connections with. In the small ensemble he accentuates the trombones, whose lines emerge as frameworks for some of the ideas in the symphonies and other works of the period when Beethoven's style began to expand its general dimensions. The result is an unusually exciting reading of a work usually regarded as second-class Beethoven. With clear sound from Athens' Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, this is a recommended fresh addition to the Beethoven literature.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Creatures of Prometheus, op. 43|