Creatures of Prometheus
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This zippy ballet is early Beethoven--the only work of its type that he ever wrote. It dates from the same time as the First Symphony, which is around 1800, and is noteworthy in two other respects: it's the only piece of orchestral music that Beethoven ever wrote that uses a harp (I know--big deal--but from such trivia are music snobs made. Go intimidate your friends!), and he uses a tune that later becomes the main theme of the finale of the Third Symphony, and consequently the subject of the Eroica Variations for piano solo. Nikolaus Harnoncourt is great with music of this sort, investing it with uncommon urgency and making it sound suitably grand. --David Hurwitz
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Just about every movement of the ballet is pulled or pushed in a different direction. Deadly slow movements are followed by episodes so ripe with passion you'd think Harnoncourt just had a reilgious epiphany. The most obvious example comes in the final dance where conductor and band are driven to passion, only to have the music nearly slow to a crawl before the every ending. This goes on throughout this recording. If you like this sort of thing, have at it. For its part, the band plays well for this conductor.
Anyone looking for a more mainstream and dedicated version of this music only need search for David Zinman's now out of print Vox recording. I checked it out the day I wrote this review and there were 21 used copies available beginning at less than $5. Zinman made this recording with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra before he became a maven of the period performance movement. His recording is outstanding in all of performance, playing and sound. There are other recordings available, including a cheap one on the Naxos label, all of which are better than this nonsense.