Beethoven - Symphony No 3, ‘Eroica’. Overtures – Leonore Nos 1 & 2
Philharmonia Orchestra / Otto Klemperer
EMI Great Recordings of the Century mono 567740-2 Buy now
(76’ · ADD)
In 1955 the Philharmonia Orchestra was at the peak of its powers. And what cogency there is sustaining and feeding the drama. Where other orchestras and conductors whip themselves into a terrible lather at the start of the finale, Klemperer and the Philharmonia sail majestically on. This is a great performance, steady yet purposeful, with textures that seem hewn out of granite. There’s no exposition repeat, and the trumpets blaze out illicitly in the first movement coda, but this is still one of the great Eroicas on record. As Karajan announced to Klemperer after flying in to a concert performance around this time: ‘I have come only to thank you, and say that I hope I shall live to conduct the Funeral March as well as you have done’. In the Leonore Overtures, recorded in 1954, the playing is a bit more rough-edged.