Beethoven: Overture No. 1 (Coriolan); Overture No. 2 (Egmont); Overture No. 3 (Leonore); Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus; Die Ruinen von Athen; Fidelio

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Overture No. 1 (Coriolan); Overture No. 2 (Egmont); Overture No. 3 (Leonore); Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus; Die Ruinen von Athen; Fidelio
PERFORMER: German Chamber Philharmonic of Bremen/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45364 2
Daniel Harding’s debut recording with the German Chamber Philharmonic, of which he is now music director, includes all four of the overtures Beethoven composed for his opera Fidelio, as well as Coriolan, Egmont, Prometheus and The Ruins of Athens. Comparing the three Leonore overtures, with their various structural preoccupations, is a fascinating experience. The finest, and best known, of them is surely No. 3 – one of the most thrilling of all Beethoven’s orchestral scores. Mahler, Furtwängler and Klemperer were among conductors who attempted to restore it to the opera house, inserting it rather uneasily between the two scenes of the second act; but it is a piece that rightfully belongs to the concert hall. Harding’s performance is very impressive indeed, with a sustained, mysterious account of the slow introduction, and an Allegro that generates admirable energy. Only the pianissimo moment following the off-stage trumpet-call lacks the sense of wonderment it carries at the parallel point in the opera. No less successful are the two companion-pieces; and of the remaining overtures here, only the fatalistic tread of the opening bars of the Egmont Overture seems to call for greater weight. Anyone attracted by this programme need not hesitate to explore this fine disc. Misha Donat

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