I like JoAnn Falletta’s forward-moving yet shapely way with the first movement of the ‘Eroica’ – music that under her direction is going places and she persuasively omits the exposition repeat to underline momentum and ongoing achievement. With dedicated playing from Falletta’s Buffalos (theirs is a long-standing partnership) this is a dug-into and detailed account of this opening Allegro con brio, as lyrical as it is fiery – captured live on May 11 & 12, 2019 in the resonant Kleinhans Music Hall, the BPO a little distant in its at-home setting however – eminently listenable, without the need for novelty. The succeeding ‘Funeral March’ is an eloquent processional, private and public emotions explored at a steady and spacious tempo. The Scherzo, rhythmically vital from the off, is a nifty affair, the horn-players distinguishing themselves in the Trio … and the Finale (launched attacca) continues the search for the victorious finishing post (without glossing over intervening sentiment or grandeur) – and when the release of ultimate arrival comes it is done with gusto, although the horns are surprisingly reticent (George Szell’s Clevelanders spoil us here to close his great version).
Applause is retained (but for which of the two performances?) but it is thankfully jettisoned to greet the opening Adagio, the most-complete of the five movements that make-up Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony (several completions have been made), here given a very-much-alive rather than posthumous reading if without overlooking the Last Rites aspects that can be found in this music, intense and yearning, teetering on the emotional brink and reaching a catastrophic dissonant climax – all effectively and movingly captured in this rich-sounding performance (February 8 & 9, 2020) during which the violinists have no problem with the high-lying writing. Beau Fleuve Records 605996-998548, the BPO’s own label.
At risk of causing offence I cannot agree that any modern performance of the Eroica should deny a listener the shock of a hearing the repeat. On balance ( the absence of more shock caused by reticent horns as mentioned in the review ) I feel closer to exploring the music by the neglected Florent Schmitt.