These two recent portrayals of Beethoven's Eroica are rather similar in style and tempo although initially I would plump for Nagano's more direct and forceful style with his Montreal orchestra. Still, Butt's interpretation also grew on me as it progressed and he really finds some incredible pathos and sublime beauty in the Marcia Funebre. Nagano is perhaps more poised in the Finale with its dizzying inflexions yet on the whole both versions are commendable if falling a little short when compared to the usual greats such as Karajan, Klemperer and Furtwängler.
The couplings are also interestingly varied with Nagano choosing excerpts from the "Creatures of Prometheus" ballet and Butt featuring four overtures with the final two being quite rare. I enjoyed his version of "The Consecration of the House" as well as "King Stephen" and Nagano is a dab hand in the ballet excerpts. Both CD's comes with richly informative notes and the recordings are quite excellent so anyone searching for a good Eroica will surely not be disappointed by either choice.
Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech