Osmo Vanska, BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, “Eroica” / Symphony No. 8 in F major

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A master’s reinvention of the symphonic form.

Beethoven's Third Symphony, subtitled the "Eroica" ("Heroic"), reinvented the genre. The first two symphonies are recognisably from the same stable as the late symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, but with this work, Beethoven literally exploded the form and range of what a symphony could do. The two dramatic chords at the start immediately hint at something new and arresting: what follows is a movement longer than many entire symphonies up to that point. The struggle, so central to Beethoven's music, takes centre-stage and the instruments are called upon to clash in ways that must have shocked its first listeners. Then there is the Funeral March second movement, an extra-musical association that makes the dancing scherzo (third movement) and finale even more arresting. This new Minnesota performance (coupled with No. 8) is shattering, and wonderful proof that Beethoven's music will be as relevant to his listeners'day as to his own.