Recording of the week: wonderful Weingartner
This week's selection comes from Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Recordings.
This year is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Napoleon Bonaparte and next year is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven. Both men, known the world over by a single name, are joined in history by the fact that Beethoven originally dedicated his Third Symphony to Bonaparte.
In 1806, the score was published under the Italian title Sinfonia Eroica - 'Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.' Apparently, in order to gain a fee from a nobleman for the composition, Beethoven deleted Bonaparte's name and changed the dedication to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian Lobkowitz.
Composer and conductor Felix Weingartner (1863-1942), a pupil of Franz Liszt, was the first to record all of Beethoven's symphonies, many more than once. This recording of the Eroica was made in 1936 with one of the finest orchestras then and now, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Weingartner brings fresh, clean lines, a taught rhythmic vitality and plenty of colour to the performance. The quiet surfaces of this Columbia recording and the resonance of the Grosser Musikvereinssaal make for an exciting listening experience, particularly the Scherzo (at 29:28) and the Finale (at 33:36).