When Pietari Inkinen and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra brought us a complete Beethoven symphonic cycle in 2014, it was coolly packaged as Beethoven: The Symphonies.

Five years on, with Edo de Waart at the helm, it is now an extensively marketed Beethoven Festival, with each instalment allotted a catchy title — a ploy that has made for healthy houses and a sold-out final night.

First up, the Heroic concert took its name from its closing Eroica Symphony and was a dramatic, if lengthy, journey through Beethoven's first three symphonic ventures, composed between 1795 and 1804.

De Waart's Eroica was