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
Available at Arkivmusic.com