Emerging from a dark depression, Beethoven chose art rather than death, thus embracing a notion of destiny and heroism which links him to heroes of the past - and of his present.The Eroica Symphony, dedicated initially to Napoleon, and ultimately 'to the memory of a great man', was to prompt contemporary commentators to seek out interpretations in the Iliad.
Amazon.com essential recording
Just what was the Leonard Bernstein phenomenon all about? This disc–part of Sony's ongoing series of reissued performances from the conductor's years with the New York Philharmonic–goes a long way toward recapturing at least two aspects of his protean musical career. Bernstein's astonishing powers of communication as both conductor and teacher permeate this account of the landmark Eroica Symphony (recorded in one day in 1964 under legendary producer John McClure); filling out the disc is a lengthy excerpt from his broadcast discussion of the work, "How a Great Symphony Was Written." The charismatic rapport between Bernstein and his New York colleagues crackles with live-wire intensity. Throughout, the sense of excitement in bringing Beethoven's untamable profusion of ideas to life is unjaded…
Jubilee Concert: 100 Years of Berliner Philharmoniker, April 30th, 1982
The performance itself ? Nothing short of revelatory. You are not likely to see or hear a reading of the tragic slow movement which digs as deeply as this one. Karajan and his orchestra present a very profound experience ; the visual aspect of the performance helps us to see the emotion being poured into this sublime movement, and the intense response from the players. The first movement doesn't exactly ignite initially, but it soon gathers steam, and the Karajan charisma settles in for a coda which blazes its way to the final chords. The third and fourth movements are beautifully played, too. - from Amazon.com
From the notes: "The Beethoven Sonatas Claudio Arrau [1903-1991] played on his tours during the last thirty years of his life were selected. The most frequently played were Opp. 10/3, 27/1, 53 and 81a plus, of course, Opp. 109, 110 and 111. There were also a few performances of Opp. 7 and 31/3. Thus, there was considerable interest when Arrau restored the sonata Op. 2/3 to his active repertoire in the 1973-75 season. … Amongst the solo works of Brahms, he played only the Haendel Variations, Op. 24 until in his 70th year when, for the 1972-73 season he brought the Sonata Op.5 into his repertoire" Notes by Peter Warwick
For decades Szell's Beethoven cycle has been justly hailed as one of the best on discs, and the reasons are clear: lively and dramatic interpretations that are true to the Beethovenian spirit married to simply spectacular orchestral playing.
Victor Carr Jr.