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LP Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony #3 in E Flat Major "Eroica", Op. 55

Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Hermann Scherchen
Speakers Corner/Westminster LP WST14045 46m AAA

Hermann Scherchen's status as a great conductor has been somewhat re-established nowadays and this timely reminder of his greatness as a Beethoven interpreter finds its way onto this splendid Westminster LP from Speakers Corner. As usual, the pressing is truly impeccable, without any sort of surface noise whatsoever and with a brilliant sound that was typical of the best Westminster LPs.

Scherchen's interpretation is fast and furious with the movements fairly rushing by, but there is no denying the visceral excitement that he whips up especially in the coda of the monumental First Movement. The Marcia Funebre is also distinct for its grandeur and spirit, yet it is also quite rushed, adding to its almost mystical nature. The final two movements have Scherchen in Karajan-esque mould yet I will be wont to say that I prefer this great maestro in the Finale where he is almost unrestrained in his speed, creating an unforgettable conclusion.

The LP includes annotation by James Lyons, a leaflet on Westminster and the usual glossy pressing now the prerogative of Speakers Corner. LP enthusiasts will not need any prompting from me as the sound is astonishingly vivid for its time and continues to confirm the importance of audiophile LPs in today's CD and DVD music world.

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech