Dimitri Mitropoulos

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 'Eroica'

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On October 1, 1955, Dimitri Mitropoulos conducted the New York Philharmonic in a live radio broadcast from Athens, and the program for the evening consisted of the Overture to La forza del destino by Giuseppe Verdi, the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica," by Ludwig van Beethoven, and Four Greek Dances by Nikos Skalkottas. Urania's 2009 digitally remastered audiophile release of the concert is remarkable for its stunning clarity and collectors of historic recordings and students of Mitropoulos will want this recording because it captures the music wonderfully, with an almost palpable presence. Being an artifact of analog technology, the recording certainly has some noise, such as pops and a little hiss in places, and there are distortions in a few spots of the Verdi and Beethoven, due to actual crinkles and stretches in the tape that couldn't be altered in the transfer. But for reproduction of this vintage, the sound is almost startling in its freshness, and the original recording was cleaned up without any serious loss of high frequencies or timbral quality. In terms of musical interpretation, this CD offers an incisive reading of the Overture, and the Four Greek Dances are lively pieces on traditional rhythms that come off as vivacious showstoppers. But the item for serious listeners is the "Eroica," which clearly demonstrates Mitropoulos' skill with the orchestra and his mastery of Beethoven's expression. This is a compelling reading that consistently holds interest, and while fans of all-digital recordings might eschew this performance for its few faults and age, it is far from a chore to hear and well worth the effort.

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