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Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 - "Eroica"; Music to Goethe's Tragedy "Egmont", Op.84; Overture "Coriolan", Op.62

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Jun. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B007VP6XBM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,365 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

DUDAMEL GUSTAVO / SIMON BOLIVA

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 31 May 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are very few dissenting voices amongst the many previous reviews - well, perhaps one here and there, but that's inevitable - and I'm not going to spoil the party; this an "Eroica" that thumbs its nose at pared-down, frenetically-paced Beethoven and plays in the Big Band tradition.

I have been understandably cautious about deifying Dudamel too soon; he is still relatively young for a conductor and not all his recordings have been wholly successful - yet his is the kind of mission one wants to succeed and the fairy-story of the Simon Bolivar (Youth - dropped in 2006) Orchestra goes on. Only a curmudgeon could fail to hear the drive and energy this orchestra brings to their playing under him and my only mild reservation is that occasionally the very rawness and attack of the strings results in some moments of faintly dubious intonation; the BPO under Karajan they ain't but that isn't necessarily a criticism...

The approach here is not monumental like that of Klemperer or Furtwängler but it's decidedly brash and confident - there is a kind of exultancy in the Dudamel's interpretation as if our hero has returned from the battle, greaves flashing in the sunlight and bells jingling on the harness. Sheer enjoyment pulses through this reading so the Scherzo dances, the horns whoop ecstatically, and Dudamel dances his way through the movement.

Tempi are brisk but not rushed and the slow movement has weight and pathos without dragging. This is a version which is all of a piece and doesn't signal its intention or let you "hear the joins" (if you see what I mean); there is a coherent artistic vision and a momentum which carries through all four movements, indicating that this is a conductor who has reached maturity.
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There were thrills and certainly some spills when the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela visited London in June. Nobody can doubt the excitement of seeing Dudamel on the podium, working with one one of the zestiest bands on the block. Yet rather than delivering their usual colourful fair, Dudamel and his team had decided to step up to the plate and tackle one of the toughest challenges in the repertoire, namely Beethoven's 'Eroica'. But rather than the expected heroics, the Venezuelans took a slightly backseat approach to the piece. Would things improve in the recording studio?

Comparisons can be cruel, but with Chailly's recent punch-to-the-gut renditions fresh in the memory and Barenboim's new West-Eastern Divan Orchestra recordings just out, there's something oddly slack about the opening of Dudamel's rendition. He takes a much broader, more romantic view than Chailly, but the Venezuelan strings lack definition. Other departments may redress that balance but broad shouldn't mean vague - as Klemperer more than ably demonstrates.

As in concert, Dudamel's slovenly Marcia funebre is unconvincing. Neither the notes nor the silences between them have the requisite electricity. Even in the third movement, which impressed live, there's an irritating slackness to the ensemble. Things galvanise in the tutti and the swagger of the final movement suits the orchestra well, but such flashes hardly constitute a thoroughbred reading of this seismic symphony. Only in the innately theatrical 'Prometheus' and 'Egmont' overtures - included as fillers - do you feel the requisite verve for which this orchestra is famed. A disappointment.
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I must say from the outset I prefer the Utube version of Dudamel's 'Eroica' Symphony.
For me it exudes freshness and passion. That performance shows a primacy for wind and strings that engenders a 'storming of the barricades' moment in every listener.
However this DG recording is altogether more low key. Although admittedly with better overall symphonic sound it relies heavily on brass and percussion, pushing wind and strings well into the background.
The performance of the four movements is also pretty even keel with no great lift or outpouring of emotion in the scherzo or finale movements.
In conclusion, I would say this is a safe performance recorded as such and pretty consistent throughout.
A good effort nonetheless. 4 stars.
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What a wonderful recording. Therefore five stars.

I have since many years liked classical music. Beethoven is one of my favourite composers. Mr. Dudamel and his Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela gave me a new expereince of Eroican-
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Without a vision, the people perish. World War 2 turned much of Europe into a car-park but the damage it inflicted on the spiritual fabric of the realm was incalculable. In response, Europe went post-modern in a colossal failure of nerve. In the flotsam and jetsam, the production-line which had produced so many great conductors ceased altogether. When did the last comet appear? I cannot recall any in my lifetime. Minor talents such as Christian Thielemann, Claudio Abbado, Nikolas Harnoncourt and Sir Simon Rattle now rule the rostrum, accompanied by many a wraith-like practitioner of Period Practice. Surely we have reached a point lower than the Dead Sea where the current conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, empurpled though he be, cannot authoritatively conduct Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven or Schubert? Sic transit gloria mundi.

Thankfully the provinces, as I will call them, were spared. They are repositories of hope. Sure, Russia copped it in WW2 but catastrophe is its norm with madness in train. It continues to march to the beat of its metaphysical drum. It's hardly surprising that the most promising conductors and classical musicians of today are Scythian. Just as pertinently, period-practice has failed to take root in the land of Ivan the Terrible and Uncle Joe. Hell: Russians want to play Mozart as if he is a great composer and not glorified wall-paper!

Equally, Latin America was not caught up in the calamity. It too has something to say.

On the basis of this recording, Dudamel is the real deal. What a glorious account of the Eroica! With the sole exception of the wind threnody before the apotheosis of the finale (which could be both more hushed and lusher) I cannot fault this performance. His pacing and sense of drama are exemplary.
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