Mariss Jansons / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3

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Even though Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica" is the main work on this 2015 BR Klassik CD, listeners may feel more intrigued by the second selection, Rodion Shchedrin's short symphonic study for orchestra, Beethovens Heiligenstädter Testament. Beethoven's Third is one of the most celebrated works in western musical history, and Mariss Jansons leads the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in a solid reading that benefits somewhat from the influence of period practice but still should be classified as a mainstream performance. Jansons has adopted some aspects of historically informed practice, insofar as the playing sounds lean and agile, and the pacing of the whole work is quite brisk. Even so, he conducts a full-sized orchestra of all modern instruments, and the feeling imparted seems closest to a mainstream interpretation. The Shchedrin piece is a meditation on Beethoven's deafness and the deep depression it caused him, at the time he wrote his searing Heiligenstadt Testament while contemplating suicide. Shchedrin's psychological study explores the depression and the terror Beethoven felt, and the connection to the Third is evident in the orchestration and many of the passages Shchedrin adapts. Jansons commissioned this work, and its live performance here is the premiere from 2008, while the symphony was recorded in concert in 2012.

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