25 Essential Beethoven Recordings: Symphony No. 3

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In the past couple decades, the interpretation of Beethoven's symphonies has been much influenced by conductors from the early-music movement. Maestros like Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Roger Norrington have made their mark performing the composer's symphonies in a period style. Starting in the late 90s, conductor David Zinman brokered a compromise, leading Zurich Tonhalle in a Beethoven cycle that blended modern instruments with a historical approach.

These are fiery, slimline readings of the "Eroica" and Fourth Symphonies, both employing the latest Beethoven scholarship. They take Beethoven's provocatively fast metronome markings literally, and at one point in the "Eroica"'s finale, the strings are pared down to a string quartet. Elsewhere, timpani have a starkness and the trumpets and horns a certain raspy quality. The effect is athletic, punchy and quite effective.

What's your favorite recording of the "Eroica?" Discuss below.

Beethoven: Symphony No 3 "Eroica"
Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, cond David Zinman
Arte Nova
Available at Arkivmusic.com


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Comments [3]

Paul Wolman from Redmond, WA

All are beautiful: There is no best; it depends a lot on the mood of the listener

Dec. 14 2013 11:12 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

At Juilliard Maestro FREDERICK WALDMAN performed with period instruments works by Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and others, notably at the Met Museum's concert hall, a generation before the likes of NICOLAUS HARNONCOURT, ROGER NORRINGTON AND DAVID ZINMAN. Authenticity is the objective, but like Bach and Shakespeare, a masterpiece, can be viewed from the prism of many formats. Beethoven's symphonies, opera, concertos, sonatas, string quartets, overtures, chamber music generally , and song literature, is so pervasive and his world consciousness and basic humanity construct an icon unparalleled to and past his own era. At Juilliard, I studied his oeuvre and , in those days, all singers learned the concert rep of Beethoven , Schubert , Schumann, Wolf and Grieg, whether they would be opera singers or concert singers . So much of our treasured masterpieces, vocal and instrumental, are unknown quantities to most Americans. THANK YOU WQXR FOR CELEBRATING BEETHOVEN !!! Wagner and his contemporaries and their successors all recognized the epic achievement of Beethoven. I am a romantischer Wagnerian heldentenor and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute at 418A Main Street, Boonton, NJ . I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I sang the Gott ! welch dunkel hier ! aria of Fidelio. it can be heard from the live performance on my three websites, one of which is www.WagnerOpera.com It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. Among the greatest singers famous for their Beethoven performances in opera and concert my voice teachers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell, Frieda Hempel and Margarete Matzenauer. Other famous singers with extensive Beethoven "rep" were Kirsten Flagstad, Helge Roswaenge, Mattia Battistini, Julius Patzak, Birgit Nilsson, Gerhardt Huesch, Herbert Janssen, Gottlob Frick, Rose Bampton, Set Svanholm, Wolfgang Windgassen, Gustav Neidlinger, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry, Gwyneth Jones, Astrid Varnay, Marjorie Lawrence, Rosa Raisa, Ludwig Hoffmann, Jerome Hines, Josef Greindl, Paul Plishka, Jon Vickers, Margaret Harshaw, Eleanor Steber, Irene Jessner, Rene Maison, Ramon Vinay, Deszo Ernster, Ferdinand Frantz, Jean and Eduard de Reszke, Regina Resnik, Blanche Thebom, Florence Austral, Leonie Rysanek, George London, Emmy Destinn, Frieda Leider, Eileen Farrell, Jean Madeira, Emmanuel List, Gota Ljungberg, Elizabeth Rethberg, Heinrich Schlusnus, Lotte Lehmann, Lawrence Tibbett, Leonard Warren, Helen Traubel and Ludwig Weber.


Nov. 24 2012 06:44 PM
Milton Cohen from Richardson, TX

For clarity and forward thrust, the Toscanini recordings of the Eroica symphony (1949 and 1953) on RCA have never been matched--all the more remarkable as they were recorded monaurally.

Nov. 21 2012 12:50 PM

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About Beethoven Awareness Month

No composer impacted the course of Western music like Ludwig van Beethoven. The events of his life are the stuff of Romantic legend, his works permeate concert halls and he remains a cultural icon outside of classical music, turning up in movies, TV soundtracks, commercials and pop songs. Throughout November, WQXR celebrates Beethoven's work through concert broadcasts, multimedia projects, marathons and other features.