Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"; Overtures

Gustavo Dudamel / Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"; Overtures Review

by Blair Sanderson

Having already recorded Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon with phenomenal success, Gustavo Dudamel leads the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in a bracing rendition of the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica," the second album in a series that promises to become one of the most compelling Beethoven cycles in years. When Dudamel made his first Beethoven disc in 2006, he was just breaking into the classical world's consciousness and was still an unknown quantity for many listeners. Six years later, Dudamel is an international celebrity whose every recording is greeted with enthusiasm and critical praise, both of which are sure to attend this recording. Dudamel brings extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to his interpretation, and the orchestra draws on his charismatic power, giving an electric performance that sustains interest for the work's duration. The Third is always a test of a conductor's control of form and the music's propulsion, and Dudamel performs these seemingly contradictory tasks of making the music coherent and volatile, as it were, finding the meeting point of Classical restraint and Romantic passion at the core of Beethoven. That control and passion are also central to Dudamel's conducting, for they inform each other and make for music that satisfies the intellect while it sends tingles up the spine. The overtures to The Creatures of Prometheus and Egmont are provided as filler works that share certain musical elements in common with "Eroica," and are quite complementary choices. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is spacious and resonant, and the orchestra has wonderful physical presence in the close-up recording. Highly recommended.

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