Nick Dear's award-winning period drama, starring Ian Hart as Beethoven, brings to life the first performance of the Eroica Symphony, an event that prompted Haydn to remark 'everything is different from today'.
Ian Hart, Tim Pigott-Smith, Claire Skinner, Jack Davenport, Frank Finlay, Fenella Woolgar, Lucy Akhurst, Leo Bill, Peter Hanson, Robert Glenister, Anton Lesser
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By the time the first public performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 (Eroica) took place in Vienna in 1805, a privileged few had already heard the work at a private play-through at the Lobkowitz Palace in June 1804.
Nick Dear’s award-winning period drama, starring Ian Hart as Beethoven, brings to life the momentous day that prompted Haydn to remark ‘everything is different from today’. Filmed in 2003.
BONUS FEATURE: Performance option
Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s outstanding surround sound recording of Eroica, made with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique exclusively for this film in the Eroicasaal in Vienna, is available to view as a stand-alone music performance feature.
PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 129 MINS
SOUND: DTS SURROUND / LPCM STEREO
“Ian Hart is brilliant as Beethoven, a volatile, magnetic figure of genius and uncouth charm…not to be missed”
“'June 1804' says the legend at the film's opening. Denis Matthews (in his Master Musicians volume) thought it was six months later that the Eroica was given a first run-through in the palace of Prince Lobkowitz, but had that been so we should have been denied Beethoven and his pupil Ferdinand Ries tramping river banks, and Beethoven and the object of his unrequited love lazing idly in the palace courtyard, so June it is. Let's not complain: historical verisimilitude is always going to be at a premium in such reconstructions, and the makers of this BBC film do not take us for fools. They use what we know of the people and places concerned to invent a plausible narrative of politics, love and anger that, most importantly, centres on the music. In fact the domestic scale of the setting is a powerful reminder of the work's vast reach and capacity to shock. Potential purchasers will have to judge for themselves whether they are likely to be bothered by the soundtrack being palpably separate from the visuals, or the orchestra being visibly smaller than the sum of its excellent parts. The recording is instrumental in bringing film and symphony to life: winds to the fore, bassoons and growly double-basses balefully everpresent. In the Eroica itself, Gardiner's first movement (without its repeat) has a bare and remorseless intensity; his own previous DG recording is nearer Beethoven's metronome mark and some distance further from the expressive force of this new recording. The Scherzo is a little plainly phrased but Gardiner springs his surprise with the finale. A tempo that seems at first tepid grows around the music, allowing the fugue its due weight, the flute solo its pathos and the horns their full measure of glory. The film's producers think the performance worth hearing on a separate set of tracks, without noises off: there are only so many times that you will want to hear Beethoven tell Ries to 'piss off' after his pupil has interrupted halfway through the first movement. In a further act of charity, Opus Arte spares us the otherwise ubiquitous musical excerpt over the title menus. The enterprise is probably a one-off but it's tempting to imagine what this team could do with the Fifth, or even the Ninth.”
“This was thrilling stuff, as exciting visually as it was aurally”
“A clever and beautifully made dramatisation”
“You could not hope for a stronger cast”
Click here for alternative recordings of this work.