Neville Marriner's friendship with the harpsichordist and musicologist Robert Thruston Dart, forged during the war years, proved decisive in the history of British music. They formed both a violin and harpsichord duo and the Jacobean Ensemble, igniting audience interest in their programmes of early and modern chamber music.
During the Academy's formative years, Marriner directed from the leader's chair. The founder took conducting lessons with Pierre Monteux and increasingly occupied the podium as the group expanded from its original core of eleven string-players and harpsichordist. Marriner's impeccably clear beat and focus on rhythmic precison flowed from his uncompromising pursuit of perfection, not to mention long experience of decoding the spidery gestures of gerontic conductors from his seat in the London Symphony Orchestra.
In this excerpt, as the work unfolds, Marriner's musicians transcend the composition's substantial surface difficulties, propelled by a potent mix of preparation and adrenalin-charged spontaneity to touch the sublime in Beethoven's score.
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1958-1960