While Andrew Manze is primarily known as a superb violinist and a prominent figure in the early music movement, playing string music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, he takes up the baton in this recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica," a work considered standard symphonic repertoire. Leading the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra in this 2008 SACD recording from Harmonia Mundi, Manze gives this famous Romantic symphony something resembling a period treatment; though it is ostensibly played without original instruments, the 59-member Swedish ensemble seems close in scale and range to early nineteenth century orchestras, and delivers a clean and meticulous reading that makes the music sound crisp, streamlined, and agile. Yet as accurately re-created as this performance may be, its authenticity is not the main point of interest of this recording; rather, it seems to be the tracking down of a theme that Beethoven used not only in the Finale of "Eroica," but also in the seventh of his 12 Contredanses, WoO 14, and in the Finale of his ballet music from The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43. Manze provides these minor offerings as educational filler and gives this already excellent package some added value, though once the familiar tune is heard in its other contexts, the listener can do little with the information except store it as trivia. Harmonia Mundi's reproduction is exceptionally clear and strong, so prepare for a delightful listening experience.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 3 in E flat major ("Eroica"), Op. 55|
|Contredanses (12) for orchestra, WoO14|
|Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus), ballet, Op. 43|