Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 – Beethoven Cult Album #8 – James Jolly


Hello I’m James
Jolley Editor-in-Chief of Gramophone
Magazine and the recording I want to champion is the 1979 DG recording of Beethoven’s
Eroica Symphony conducted by
Carlo Maria Giulini and featuring the
Los Angeles Philharmonic. It was recorded in 1978. I was at school and already
a passionate record collector and a great fan
of Giulini’s conducting and I noticed
that he was bringing the Los Angeles Philharmonic
to London for two concerts at either end of a European tour. The first concert comprised
Mahler’s 10th symphony the Adagio and
then the Eroica and then about three weeks later
he returned with his orchestra and they did Mozart’s Jupiter
and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique. But it was the Eroica
from those two concerts that made an
enormous impression on me. Here’s this work dating
from the very first years of the 19th century,
it was premiered in 1805, and really made an enormous
statement about the symphony and more to the point about
Beethoven’s view of mankind, humankind
and fighting against fate. Giulini’s recording of the
Eroica is a massive creation. The first movement
complete with its repeat takes just over 20 minutes
and listening to it again all these years later is
to be reminded of what an
incredible creation Giulini achieves
with this recording. You feel the ambition
the enormous leap in Beethoven’s
creativity in the way that Giulini
unfurls the symphony. He was a
viola player in his early days and I think
you can tell that from the way
he tends to the string writing
throughout this symphony — every little detail
is lovingly cared for, every little
grace note placed perfectly and in the second movement
— the funeral march — the strings play with absolute
ravishing texture and colour. The last two movements
are wonderful but I think it’s the first movement
that makes the enormous impact. It’s not a recording
I think that’s probably a classic
but I think it’s a very, very special
recording indeed and I do
hope you enjoy it as much as I have
down these many, many years
since I first encountered it.

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