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  Harmonia Mundi -
  HMU 807470
  Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Manze
  Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" in E flat major Op. 55, The Creatures of Prometheus Op. 43

Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Manze (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 8 show all

Reviews: 3

Review by andrewb April 22, 2008 (15 of 17 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
The first minute of the symphony immediately distinguishes this recording; at once separating it from most others with a clarity of vision and understanding that continues to the symphony’s end. The famous opening two strokes of the symphony are very precise and sharp, incisively commanding attention, leading onto a deliciously detailed and refined reading of the first movement. The use of vibrato is restrained, as one would expect from Manze, but is expressively used as needed to add to the enjoyment.

The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra is a small orchestra and this comes across to great benefit throughout this disc, with remarkably light and delicate playing. There is none of the relentless attack and thumping which seems to have become popular with other so called historically informed performances of Beethoven, an approach that can sometimes be over used and become tiring to the ear.

The second movement is full of refinement, the tempi and pointing seeming to be perfect, with a funeral march that is noble and stately but never ponderous. Speeds throughout never seem fast, although the timings are fairly typical for this symphony; there is excellent forward momentum which never sounds rushed as it can in some Beethoven performances.

Throughout this is a reading of exceptional clarity, which involves and gives immense enjoyment. It is also one of those discs that I have to keep playing and hearing again; it is rare that a recording has this ability to so continually fascinate the listener.

As a conductor this disc must be Manze’s finest recording achievement to date.

Accompanying the symphony on this disc are twelve ‘contredances’ and the finale from the ballet Creatures of Prometheus, these are not random choices made to fill up a disc, but are used to illustrate the genesis and development of the idea behind the symphony’s finale. This might not attract the average listener, appearing to be too academic, but in fact they are very enjoyable pieces in their own right, played as well as the symphony, and a splendid alternative coupling. Manze provides a very informative and readable note, which describes the history of the symphony when it was composed and first played, relating the additional pieces on this disc to the symphony. Informatively, he also lists his own version, with timings, of the ‘SOGs’ or ‘strokes of genius’ that populate this great symphony.

Very good recording quality, although not one that amazes. There is an excellent of spread of instruments between the front speakers and a reasonable depth to the image. The sound detail is clear and natural with each instrument precisely and lucidly placed within the image.

The packaging is Harmonia Mundi’s usual digipak with a loose booklet.

Although we do not need another Beethoven symphony cycle on SACD, I very much hope that this becomes one.

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Review by Lee Scoggins June 5, 2008 (5 of 19 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I enjoyed the music but found the sonics mediocre.

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Review by Jijagua May 23, 2011 (4 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I write this having just been exposed to Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, with this recording being my first chance to hear it. For some reason, I have been avoiding it - maybe it was the name "Eroica" or something that just made me think it would be some soft, gently, wimpy symphony. But I was quite wrong.

I should mention that I am a lover of classical music, but not an aficionado. Thus, I can't tell you one technical thing about any of this music, but I know what I like and don't like. I am guiding almost completely by emotion and awe. With that said, here goes the review.

In this version, I was surprised by how fast it starts. It's quite gripping. The playing seems very uptempo to me, moving along at a very nice pace. The dynamic range is extraordinary, and the instrumental playing seems very sharp. It's hard for me to believe that this is not one of the best renditions of this symphony. Extremely excellent sound quality throughout. The images of the instruments is easy to pick out, and in the stereo version, the soundstage is very wide. I also feel a depth to the soundstage as well. Every instrument is squeaky clean sounding, and there is no noise (like hiss or any residual stuff) at all. It's as clean of a recording as I've ever experienced.

That was all the stereo version.

Nothing prepared me for the experience through the headphones. The feeling of three-dimensionality is like no other classical recording I've ever heard. I could just recline back and bask in sounds coming from every direction - like sitting amongst the players. I did a little research on this CD and found the following quote from Jon Iverson (in Stereophile's 2010 records to die for).

"Harmonia Mundi's recording is balanced, warm, and nonfatiguing. The first movement is spellbinding — I hear subtle ambience cues I usually notice only at live performances, and the soundstage is wider and deeper than any I've experienced from the best "Red Book" CDs or SACDs. There is an enhanced sense of three-dimensionality, with more precise images of the instruments, more open highs, more detailed imaging, deeper soundstaging, and better-defined bass. All of this connects me to those crucial elements of music: pace, rhythm, and emotion."

That quote sums up my thoughts as well.

This is a thrilling recording with the sound to match - as good a recording as I can imagine. Highly recommended.

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Works: 2  

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica"
Ludwig van Beethoven - The Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Op. 43