New Eroica on the block

In 2007 - here I raved about a broadcast I'd heard of Osmo Vanska conducting the Eroica symphony by Beethoven in Minnesota.

Two years later I heard him conduct it with the same orchestra to good effect but it wasn't as fiery as the Minnesota performance.  Now I 've heard that performance bettered on an auspicious occasion of the first performance by an American orchestra in Cuba following the thaw in relations brokered by Pope Francis between the Castro regime and the US.  Two concerts by the Minnesotans were cultural landmarks and in the first Vänskä repeated the Minnesotans first concert (as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra) in Havanna in 1929.

What strikes me about this Eroica and why it is worth hearing whilst on the BBC website/iPlayer Radio, is the immediacy of the the string playing and their position in the sound picture.  Some might argue that this is the expense of the woodwind - but the opportunity to hear a balanced, disciplined string section reveal the inner workings and delights of the symphony isn't to be missed.

Second there's clearly a sense of occasion and I'd put this up with Toscanini's recordings for capturing the spirit of the time.  The orchestra have played the work a lot under Vänskä and have his vision in their fingers, but the urgency, and euphony of the response here is obvious.

So whilst you can go here:

Also in the concert a crackling reading of Egmont Overture and a performance of that curiosity, the Choral Fantasy with Frank Fernández (piano), the Cuban National Chorus and Coro Vocal Leo.

There's also a link to the following night's programme which includes the second concert which was a marvellous collection of pieces - Cuban dances, Vänskä's selection of pieces from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.


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