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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral"; Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46

Erich Leinsdorf Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of Leinsdorf's Best from Boston Jan. 4 2002
Format:Audio CD
Erich Leinsdorf's stint as music director of the Boston Symphony lasted from 1962 through 1969; these recordings were made at the very end of his tenure and they are glorious. The performance of the Ninth Symphony is lean, beautifully articulated and powerful, rather in the manner of Toscanini, Szell or Reiner. But unlike other, to my ears rather impersonal sounding Leinsdorf/BSO Beethoven symphony recordings, here the conductor seems thoroughly engaged with the music. And undoubtedly that is the result of the brilliant theatrical stroke of preceding the performance of Beethoven's paean to triumphant humanism with Schoenberg's shattering little cantata about the Holocaust. Leinsdorf insisted that this juxtaposition, one he had devised for his final public appearance as BSO Music Director at Tanglewood, should also appear on his recording of the Beethoven symphony. And it is positively chilling how the Schoenberg seems to fade into the opening string tremolos of Beethoven's so-familiar first movement. Once you experience Leinsdorf's performance of these two masterpieces you will never hear either the same way again. (I especially recommend the experience to those for whom the Ninth has become perhaps too familiar.) An amazing, unique experience. Sound quality is superb, completely living up to BMG's promotional hype about its 96/24 remastering process. Given BMG's recent pull-back from serious classical recording projects, listeners should rush out to buy this gem before it disappears, perhaps forever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Couple of Beethoven and Schoenberg June 15 2000
Format:Audio CD
This recording was made in April 1969 following the farewell concert of Erich Leinsdorf as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with the same programme. For that ocasion Maestro Leinsdorf choose Beethoven's 9th preceded with Schoenberg's short but dramatic and intense work. This is a demonstration of Leinsdorf as a smart concert scheduler: both works speak on freedom and human rights, besides the great differences in motivation and inspiration. The results are terrible. Sherril Milnes as narrator in A Survivor form Warsaw frezees one's blood, exposing al terror from the nazis invading the Jewish ghetto (it is told that Schoenberg heard the story from an actual survivor and composed the work on it). Leinsdorf's Beethoven is a well paced, classic performance. You will not find here spectacular sounds, just an honest and exact performance with great sound form the Bostonians in a very german style. Timpani have a great presence and execution, also the chorus and the soloists. Besides, this is the first Ninth sung by Domingo, then an ascending star in the opera arena who had just signed an RCA contract. Recording is clear, wide and detailed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Music with Powerful A Powerful Theme Oct. 7 2000
Format:Audio CD
Beethoven and Schoenberg are two perfect examples of composers who have put power into music through selecting a powerful theme. Beethoven, in fact, had an influence in Schoenberg's music. The 9th symphony and Survivor from Warsaw are excellent pieces that are connected and can be performed at a concert. In fact, it has been. I attended a concert featuring both works with the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing, under the baton of newcomer Esa Peka Salonen. Schoenberg put the words of a Jewish survivor from Warsaw and made it into a short but grandiose work for chorus and orchestra. It is chilling and dark but it is an excellent prelude to Beethoven's 9th. The Ninth expresses the horrors that mankind can create, such as is the Holocaust and in the case of Beethoven's period, the Napoleonic Wars. But the tremendous fury of the opening movement and the scherzo can express any war at any time. The Adagio offers hope of peace and is sublime, a great and nearly religious-like prelude to the final movement with chorus. This was the first symphony ever to use chorus, later composers would use this method. "Ode to Joy " based on Schiller's poem became a fanfare for freedom and brotherhood of mankind thanks to Beethoven. It is so popular that even films and televisions use it in moments of victory. Together, Schoenberg and Beethoven have created powerful music. A must have.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Couple of Beethoven and Schoenberg June 15 2000
By "msafier" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This recording was made in April 1969 following the farewell concert of Erich Leinsdorf as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with the same programme. For that ocasion Maestro Leinsdorf choose Beethoven's 9th preceded with Schoenberg's short but dramatic and intense work. This is a demonstration of Leinsdorf as a smart concert scheduler: both works speak on freedom and human rights, besides the great differences in motivation and inspiration. The results are terrible. Sherril Milnes as narrator in A Survivor form Warsaw frezees one's blood, exposing al terror from the nazis invading the Jewish ghetto (it is told that Schoenberg heard the story from an actual survivor and composed the work on it). Leinsdorf's Beethoven is a well paced, classic performance. You will not find here spectacular sounds, just an honest and exact performance with great sound form the Bostonians in a very german style. Timpani have a great presence and execution, also the chorus and the soloists. Besides, this is the first Ninth sung by Domingo, then an ascending star in the opera arena who had just signed an RCA contract. Recording is clear, wide and detailed.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best-sung Ninth on disc Sept. 2 2009
By Classics Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This recording of the towering Ninth is a revelation--not in spite of, but BECAUSE of Leinsdorf's ability to get out of the way and let Beethoven be heard! I'm sick to death of having overzealous conductors drop anvils on my head to demonstrate the effects of their supposedly "inspired" deep thoughts on this work. If there's a composer whose work doesn't require the conductor to turn to the listener as if to say, "See? This part right here is significant!", it's Beethoven. Leinsdorf neither pushes nor drags; he may not be trying to provide the greatest "depth", but he also isn't boring us to death--a trend that started with Otto Klemperer, a well-documented manic depressive who made far too many recordings during his depressive periods and far too few during his manic periods. I like the way Leinsdorf varies the dynamics in the cantabile passages in the second movement, which helps it move, and the tympani are FOR ONCE not suppressed! He keeps the third movement moving (if there's one thing I hate, it's passing out and waking up to find the third movement is STILL going on like a bad day at work). And then there's the finale, where Sherrill Milnes and Placido Domingo blend like chocolate and darker chocolate (which they would do for next two decades), both because of the sounds they make and their incredible skill at ensemble. Their dark tones and careful shading cover the passages where some awful, discordant sounds often emerge when the soprano is suddenly exposed or the principals are scaling in different directions--painful if you have a rather dry, sharp-toned tenor and a too-dark mezzo coupled with a wooly basso and a screechy soprano. This is a very well matched, blended, highly skilled ensemble of principal singers who for once don't sound like they met up ten minutes before the recording--the best sung Ninth you're likely to hear. I've heard too many versions where the singers are singing well but sound like they are on different planets.

I don't know what another reviewer was getting at in saying Milnes is not a good enough vocal actor to put Schoenberg's Warsaw piece over. It's not an operatic role nor a standard accompanied narration, it's a cantata-like sprechstimme (speech-singing) piece meant to dramatize terrible events that are actually depicted by the music. "Acting" it adds little value for a lot of effort, and whatever there is to be added that supposedly isn't provided by Milnes is not something I'd search the catalog for to in the hope of acquiring a mythical better version of this short piece. It's not like Sherrill Milnes was muttering to himself in this version!

The remastering has excellent sound and adds a little boom to what was already a well recorded and spacious LP issue; the previous CD issue was a bit more remote in sound and cut the Schoenberg.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of Leinsdorf's Best from Boston Jan. 4 2002
By T. Beers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Erich Leinsdorf's stint as music director of the Boston Symphony lasted from 1962 through 1969; these recordings were made at the very end of his tenure and they are glorious. The performance of the Ninth Symphony is lean, beautifully articulated and powerful, rather in the manner of Toscanini, Szell or Reiner. But unlike other, to my ears rather impersonal sounding Leinsdorf/BSO Beethoven symphony recordings, here the conductor seems thoroughly engaged with the music. And undoubtedly that is the result of the brilliant theatrical stroke of preceding the performance of Beethoven's paean to triumphant humanism with Schoenberg's shattering little cantata about the Holocaust. Leinsdorf insisted that this juxtaposition, one he had devised for his final public appearance as BSO Music Director at Tanglewood, should also appear on his recording of the Beethoven symphony. And it is positively chilling how the Schoenberg seems to fade into the opening string tremolos of Beethoven's so-familiar first movement. Once you experience Leinsdorf's performance of these two masterpieces you will never hear either the same way again. (I especially recommend the experience to those for whom the Ninth has become perhaps too familiar.) An amazing, unique experience. Sound quality is superb, completely living up to BMG's promotional hype about its 96/24 remastering process. Given BMG's recent pull-back from serious classical recording projects, listeners should rush out to buy this gem before it disappears, perhaps forever.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Music with Powerful A Powerful Theme Oct. 7 2000
By Rudy Avila - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Beethoven and Schoenberg are two perfect examples of composers who have put power into music through selecting a powerful theme. Beethoven, in fact, had an influence in Schoenberg's music. The 9th symphony and Survivor from Warsaw are excellent pieces that are connected and can be performed at a concert. In fact, it has been. I attended a concert featuring both works with the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing, under the baton of newcomer Esa Peka Salonen. Schoenberg put the words of a Jewish survivor from Warsaw and made it into a short but grandiose work for chorus and orchestra. It is chilling and dark but it is an excellent prelude to Beethoven's 9th. The Ninth expresses the horrors that mankind can create, such as is the Holocaust and in the case of Beethoven's period, the Napoleonic Wars. But the tremendous fury of the opening movement and the scherzo can express any war at any time. The Adagio offers hope of peace and is sublime, a great and nearly religious-like prelude to the final movement with chorus. This was the first symphony ever to use chorus, later composers would use this method. "Ode to Joy " based on Schiller's poem became a fanfare for freedom and brotherhood of mankind thanks to Beethoven. It is so popular that even films and televisions use it in moments of victory. Together, Schoenberg and Beethoven have created powerful music. A must have.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent "9th" that has stood the test of time. March 20 2013
By Thomas Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Like another reviewer noted, Leinsdorf's reading of this seminal work is lean and propulsive. It is far from routine as so many cookie-cutter performances are like Previn Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 ~ Previn or Dohnányi Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 , or overly brittle like much of Szell's Beethoven can be. I owned this newer release of the performance but ended-up selling it because I had absolutely no interest in the Schoenberg discmate. Instead, I purchased the Victrola reissue very inexpensively and in very acceptable sound Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral". No one investing in that CD should be disappointed. Highly recommended.
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