Yondani Butt / London Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3; Overtures

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The world hasn't been clamoring for a new recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 ("Eroica"), but here's one from the internationally minded Nimbus Alliance label in Britain, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by one Yondani Butt. Of Macanese background, he has the distinction of holding a Ph.D. in chemistry in addition to a long record of conducting orchestras around the world. Perhaps this release is intended to serve the growing Asian customer base interested in the mainstream of Western classical music, but it does not seem to be marketed as such. At any rate, although not groundbreaking, it's an entirely satisfactory version, with a broad, deliberate feel in the first movement that favors the violins and gives the music a somewhat lyrical feel. The funeral march and scherzo are each back-loaded, with circumspect beginnings that unfold with gathering momentum, and the lively variation finale makes the most of the little echo effects built into the theme and its subsequent elaboration. The album is filled out with four overtures, of which the most successfully executed are the least-often heard: the late King Stephen Overture, Op. 117, and Consecration of the House, Op. 124, a work in which Beethoven seems to try out the contrapuntal technique characteristic of his late style. The entire album is pleasing and full of intelligent, small details, and the sound, from the venerable Abbey Road studios, is above average, with a dry, clear texture.

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