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Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

Beethoven Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 7.30
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Product Details


1. Allegro Con Brio
2. Marcia Funebre: Adagio Assai
3. Scherzo: Allegro Vivace
4. Finale: Allegro Molto
5. Adagio - Allegro Vivace
6. Adagio
7. Menuetto: Allegro Vivace
8. Allegro Ma Non Troppo

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great "Eroica" recording by any standards. June 22 2003
Format:Audio CD
In his autobiography, EMI producer Fred Gaisberg recalled that conductor Felix Weingartner and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra were not on good terms at the time this recording of the "Eroica" was made. Factions and intrigues, typical of Vienna, were making it difficult for Weingartner to retain his five year contract at the Opera. Few members of the orchestra were in sympathy with his decision not to resign. Accordingly he treated the orchestra with "frigid detachment and they responded with grudging correctness".
In this emotional climate, and in the superb Vienna Musikvereinsaal, a great recording of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony was made in May 1936. To listen to just a few minutes of the first movement is enough to demonstrate that every score marking, every matter of balance, and every relation between detail and complete structure has been correctly judged. Nowhere is Weingartner's reputation as a tasteful, scholarly and cultured Beethoven interpreter better displayed.
His recording of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony was made in London three years earlier with the newly-formed London Philharmonic Orchestra. This is also a classic performance, with some especially fine playing from the orchestra's wind section.
Restoration producer Mark Obert-Thorn comments in the notes included with this CD that the "Eroica" is one of Weingartner's best sounding recordings, and explains that he has added a little reverberation to offset the close miking and "boxy" acoustic that originally characterized the recording of the Fourth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic "Straight" Eroica! July 7 2004
Format:Audio CD
This is the finest transfer of Weingartner's classic "straight" Eroica that it has been by pleasure to hear. While there is no getting around the excessive reverberance of the Vienna concert hall, this excellent transfer by Obert-Thorn is even better than the Brian Crimp effort once on an EMI LP set devoted to "The Art of Felix Weingartner." While I marginally prefer the Opus Kura (Japan) transfer of Weingartner's Beethoven 9th, this Naxos CD provides just about all we can expect to hear from the Eroica (the Opus Kura here is just too cavernous and noisy, even though the orchestral sound is at times more immediate).
I continue to marvel at how much variety of expressive nuance Weingartner achieves here within a single, rather uptempo pulse. Of the other "classical" conceptions of this work on CD, only Fritz Busch and Carl Schuricht are in the same league. Perhaps the closest to Weingartner in over-all approach - lean, direct, and rhythmically supple - was the Lovro von Matacic account with the Czech Philharmonic. That was once available on a stereo Parliament LP - I don't believe it has yet had a CD transfer from Supraphon.
Of course, there are also several superb "personalized" readings of the Eroica that deserve a hearing - among my favorites are those by Furtwangler, Abendroth, Kabasta, Knappertsbusch, Scherchen and Mengelberg.
This transfer of the 4th Symphony is also superb - it's a big improvement over the old Columbia Entre LP (coupled with the 2nd) that has served me well all these years. It's also a wonderful performance: along with the Schuricht, I would say it's the benchmark for the "straight and true" approach to this work. Again, there are also some remarkable, more "romantic" interpretations that merit a hearing: most notably, Furtwangler, Abendroth, Mengelberg and Georgescu.
Very highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERLY! Aug. 19 2003
Format:Audio CD
Weingartner's "Eroica" has long been considered to be one of his two greatest recorded achievements (the other being the Ninth, although I would personally extend this list, somewhat). Here, it comes alive in probably the best transfer it has received, on CD or LP (the Preiser comes close, but the Naxos has a little more "top." The performance is very flexible and spontaneous in tempo, while maintaining the forward thrust and architecture that holds the work together. The Fourth Symphony is every bit as good, especially the moderate tempo for the Finale, which allows for the interplay of the chattering string figurations played against the rather leisurely pace; something similiar can be found in the Finale of Mozart's 39th Symphony, in Weingartner's London Philharmonic rendition. The sound of the Fourth is much improved in this transfer, with the rather dull and boxy sound of the original suitably brightened up. I understand that one regular reviewer regards this as his favorite "Eroica"; I would not argue with anyone over that sentiment. Incidentally, Christopher Dyment, in his "Weingartner: Recollections and Recordings", speaks a great deal about this performance of the "Eroica" and remarks on how it resembles Richard Wagner's performance, as described by Eduard Hanslick. It seems that Weingartner, far from being a "modernist" in the sense of Toscanini, actually followed a rather strict Wagnerian course of interpretation; it is well known that Wagner warned about arbitrary and random tempo fluctuations, as seeming practiced later on by his disciple, Hans von Buelow, whom Weingartner criticized for his mannered way with the classics. At any rate, here is another of the great Weingartner Beethoven recordings, one that belongs in every music lover's CD collection.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My wait is over! Feb. 20 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'd been waiting for this one! In my college freshman English composition class, for our first essay, we were asked to write five pages on something we knew very well. It took me one nanosecond to decide to write on the Felix Weingartner recording of Beethoven's Third Symphony. I'd first heard it on a 78rpm set (as I recall it was twelve discs!) that belonged to my aunt. Then I bought my own LP of it in the early 1950s. I remember I wrote fifteen pages and even then had to pare it down somewhat. I remember my comp teacher wrote in the margins, 'Whoa, boy!' I wrote two pages alone on the 'false' horn entry against shimmering string tremolos ushering in the first movement recapitulation.
You get my drift. This is a great performance of the 'Eroica.' It is not idiosyncratic like some, and it is not stodgy or self-aggrandizing like others. There is great subtlety - for instance, those initial E flat chords don't hit you upside the head; rather, they announce that something of great import is to follow. And it does. The funeral march is not played as a pompous dirge, but as a heartfelt song of mourning and consolation. The scherzo is fleet but also full, partly because of those wonderful wide-bore Viennese horns. The finale variations have an overall line that doesn't fall apart into the individual variations, but builds to a stupendous climax. Weingartner was one of the most amazing moulders of orchestral sound. His sforzandi, for instance, are always gauged exactly to match the surrounding orchestral dynamic; they don't punch you, they energize you.
The Fourth, called a 'slender Greek maiden between two giants' by Schumann, is gentle, dancing, full of genuine but slightly hesitant feeling. Listen to how the ending of the first movement reaches an almost transcendant intensity. And I dare you to try to keep still during the lively third and fourth movements. Ah, yes.
The sound in both these performances is simply amazing for recordings from the 1930s. Mark-Obert Thorn, the producing engineer, has done it again. And then there is Naxos's budget price!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing recordings Sept. 23 2004
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Oh that some conductor were performing Beethoven symphonies with this kind of authority today. These early 30s recordings by Felix Weingartner and the Vienna Philharmonic with No. 3 and the London Philharmonic with No. 4 are superb in every way, with rock solid, propulsive interpretations and disciplined and tight playing by the ensembles. They belie the myth that orchestras back in "those days" were loose and undisciplined, albeit chock full of feeling with thick vibrato. If it weren't for the sound you would almost think you are listening to modern ensembles. The London Philharmonic in particular sounds very similar to its present-day incarnation. And Weingartner leads both groups in rousing, crisp performances that know they are masterworks. The Eroica is truly heroic, with a recap in the first movement that will make your hair stand on end. The variations at the end are magnificent and the funeral march has all the dark menance with none of the overstatedness of some other conductors. I would place this recording second only to Cluytens, who conducts my very favorite Eroica ever. That puts this performance above *Furtwangler,* but that's the straight dope. The Fourth is almost as great--after listening to this I put on Leonard Bernstein, Vienna Philharmonic 1980--often cited as a great recording--and it paled in comparison, with puny ideas (no ideas) and only lots of speed to show for itself. (More on that and Lenny's other Beethoven symphonies with the VPO in an up-coming review.) The slow movement is as tender as I've ever heard but Weingartner never loses the forward-flowing rhythm that moves things along. The wind playing, so critical (I think this symphony has some of Beethoven's best scoring, particularly for the winds and the timpani), is masterfully blended here. The precision and perfectionism are all the more remarkable when you realize in these recordings the playing was done in one take, with no editing possible.

Sound is quite good for the time, with a very natural concert hall quality and nothing unduly emphasized. There is some deterioration in the second side of the 4th, during the exposition section, but it's the sort of thing one has to expect in historical reissues and should not dissuade anyone already familiar with (and accepting of) these kinds of recordings. Personally, I'd gladly trade all the DDD recordings that have been made in the past 20 years for performances like these. We're lucky these discs have been preserved, and lovingly restored.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic "Straight" Eroica! July 7 2004
By Jeffrey Lipscomb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is the finest transfer of Weingartner's classic "straight" Eroica that it has been by pleasure to hear. While there is no getting around the excessive reverberance of the Vienna concert hall, this excellent transfer by Obert-Thorn is even better than the Brian Crimp effort once on an EMI LP set devoted to "The Art of Felix Weingartner." While I marginally prefer the Opus Kura (Japan) transfer of Weingartner's Beethoven 9th, this Naxos CD provides just about all we can expect to hear from the Eroica (the Opus Kura here is just too cavernous and noisy, even though the orchestral sound is at times more immediate).

I continue to marvel at how much variety of expressive nuance Weingartner achieves here within a single, rather uptempo pulse. Of the other "classical" conceptions of this work on CD, only Erich Kleiber/VPO (1955 on Decca) and Carl Schuricht/BPO (live 1964 on a deleted Originals CD set) are in the same league. Perhaps the closest to a combination of Weingartner and Klemperer in over-all approach - lean, direct, and rhythmically supple, yet weighty in emphasis - was the Lovro von Matacic account with the Czech Philharmonic. That first appeared on a stereo Parliament LP and is now available in an excellent CD transfer from Supraphon.

Of course, there are also several superb "personalized" readings of the Eroica that deserve a hearing - among my favorites are those by Furtwangler, Kabasta, Knappertsbusch, Scherchen and Mengelberg.

This transfer of the 4th Symphony is also superb - it's a big improvement over the old Columbia Entre LP (coupled with the 2nd) that has served me well all these years. It's also a wonderful performance: along with the Schuricht, I would say it's the benchmark for the "straight and true" approach to this work. Again, there are also some remarkable, more "romantic" interpretations that merit a hearing: most notably, Furtwangler, Konwitschny, Mengelberg and Georgescu.

Very highly recommended!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great "Eroica" recording by any standards. June 22 2003
By John Austin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In his autobiography, EMI producer Fred Gaisberg recalled that conductor Felix Weingartner and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra were not on good terms at the time this recording of the "Eroica" was made. Factions and intrigues, typical of Vienna, were making it difficult for Weingartner to retain his five year contract at the Opera. Few members of the orchestra were in sympathy with his decision not to resign. Accordingly he treated the orchestra with "frigid detachment and they responded with grudging correctness".
In this emotional climate, and in the superb Vienna Musikvereinsaal, a great recording of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony was made in May 1936. To listen to just a few minutes of the first movement is enough to demonstrate that every score marking, every matter of balance, and every relation between detail and complete structure has been correctly judged. Nowhere is Weingartner's reputation as a tasteful, scholarly and cultured Beethoven interpreter better displayed.
His recording of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony was made in London three years earlier with the newly-formed London Philharmonic Orchestra. This is also a classic performance, with some especially fine playing from the orchestra's wind section.
Restoration producer Mark Obert-Thorn comments in the notes included with this CD that the "Eroica" is one of Weingartner's best sounding recordings, and explains that he has added a little reverberation to offset the close miking and "boxy" acoustic that originally characterized the recording of the Fourth.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERLY! Aug. 19 2003
By Ralph J. Steinberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Weingartner's "Eroica" has long been considered to be one of his two greatest recorded achievements (the other being the Ninth, although I would personally extend this list, somewhat). Here, it comes alive in probably the best transfer it has received, on CD or LP (the Preiser comes close, but the Naxos has a little more "top." The performance is very flexible and spontaneous in tempo, while maintaining the forward thrust and architecture that holds the work together. The Fourth Symphony is every bit as good, especially the moderate tempo for the Finale, which allows for the interplay of the chattering string figurations played against the rather leisurely pace; something similiar can be found in the Finale of Mozart's 39th Symphony, in Weingartner's London Philharmonic rendition. The sound of the Fourth is much improved in this transfer, with the rather dull and boxy sound of the original suitably brightened up. I understand that one regular reviewer regards this as his favorite "Eroica"; I would not argue with anyone over that sentiment. Incidentally, Christopher Dyment, in his "Weingartner: Recollections and Recordings", speaks a great deal about this performance of the "Eroica" and remarks on how it resembles Richard Wagner's performance, as described by Eduard Hanslick. It seems that Weingartner, far from being a "modernist" in the sense of Toscanini, actually followed a rather strict Wagnerian course of interpretation; it is well known that Wagner warned about arbitrary and random tempo fluctuations, as seeming practiced later on by his disciple, Hans von Buelow, whom Weingartner criticized for his mannered way with the classics. At any rate, here is another of the great Weingartner Beethoven recordings, one that belongs in every music lover's CD collection. BUT THE OPUS KURA OF THE EROICA IS EVEN BETTER!

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