Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3 (Eroica)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3 (Eroica)
PERFORMER: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/ Wolfgang Sawallisch
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54501 2 DDD
On paper, Sawallisch and the Concertgebouw might be expected to walk off with all the honours in the Eroica. In fact, Herbig and the RPO give a performance of stature in this mighty work, while Sawallisch seems ponderous in the first movement (lacking the exposition repeat, despite what the booklet says). A pity, for the latter follows a bright and flawless account of the First Symphony, which superbly points up the work’s infectious humour. In the Funeral March Sawallisch broods intensely while Herbig unfortunately applies the brakes in the Trio after an equally vivid Scherzo. Herbig attacks the finale with gusto, but is slow in the final andante, honours to the RPO horns notwithstanding, and despite a few editing blemishes elsewhere. Sawallisch’s finale is masterly. Both rescore (usually trumpets) in places, following the German (Weingartner) tradition from which they descend, despite their current American domicile. Christopher Fifield

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