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Sym 9/Egmont Ovt

Ludwig Van Beethoven Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.50 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Ouverture Egmont Op. 84 - Sols/St Hedwigs Cath
2. Symphonie Nr. 9 d-moll Op. 125 - Sols/St Hedwigs Cath

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Disparu en 1963, le chef d'orchestre d'origine hongroise a laissé d'incontournables références dont cette gravure qui marqua d'ailleurs l'une des premières parutions de DG en stéréo. Fricsay fait sonner chaque pupitre avec une intransigeance et une lucidité totales. Petit à petit, ce que l'on prenait pour de la froideur s'estompe ; il ne subsiste alors que la légèreté qui laisse briller la puissance des timbres du Philharmonique de Berlin. Le plateau vocal est exceptionnel de force, d'implication, à l'image des premières phrases de Fischer- Dieskau. Pour ceux qui cherchent une lecture aux antipodes des préoccupations métaphysiques de Furtwängler et de Karajan, voici une interprétation passionnante de vie, d'urgence, d'une humanité en quête de son salut. -- Étienne Bertoli

Product Description

This is simply one of the greatest, most deservedly legendary recordings of Beethoven's 9th Symphony ever offered to the public. Tempos and dynamics vary widely, with Fricsay always considerate of the works many thematic challenges. His handling of the subtle rhythmic gradations of the Molto vivace is peerless and prepare yourself for one of the most exhilarating Allegro assai finales this side of Toscanini. With a line up of soloists including Irmgard Seefried, Maureen Forrester, Ernst Haefliger, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau all in their vocal prime as well, it simply doesn't get any better than this. Deutsche Grammophon's rich well-balanced sound is very good for it's vintage. No matter how many performances of this frequently recorded masterpiece you may already own, don't miss Fricsay's!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic! Feb. 16 2004
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This is a fantastic recording of Beethoven's famous ninth symphony. It's the first stereo recording of the symphony, and still very few other recordings come up to its standard, if any.
The first movement is as it should be (and far too often isn't): lively, gradiose, but without pomposity, and in some way barbaric. The second movement, Molto vivace, really dances, and has a rythmic drives that carries it forward and takes you along. The slow movement is really played rather slowly (18 minutes), but it's the most beautiful rendition of it I have ever heard. Fricsay shapes the melody with real care for every little detail, and he manages to make it really sound like music from heaven. Then, after these 18 minutes of gorgeous serenity, the finale comes as a fresh breath of air. Sheer joy shines from this movement, in which Fricsay, unlike many other conductors, avoids being pompous. The soloists are all excellent and in top form, and they sing the music with real vigour and joy.
The orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, is in as fine a form as ever, and the recorded sound is excellent. It sometimes, but very seldom, gets a bit muddy, especially in the first movement, but most of the time it is really sharp with a clarity comparable to that of any later recording. There is only one little problem: There is a lot of tape hiss in the background. But then again: The performance is so good that you have forgotten it after five minutes of listening.
So, finally: A wonderful performance of one of the greatest symphonies ever, far better than the famous Karajan recording, which I find rather cold (compared to this one, at least). I must admit, I haven't heard any recording by FurtwÀngler, but until that happens this will be my favourite recording of the ninth. A tragedy that Fricsay died so young. If he had lived longer, he would surely have been recognized as one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century, comparable to Karajan, Bernstein and Toscanini.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The second best performance of the ninth May 6 2004
Format:Audio CD
The sound is unique. If not for The ninth conducted by Furtwangler in 1942 this would be the greatest performance in every age.
Anyway it's amust for you to buy it. Don't miss tis essential document.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb in every sense. Jan. 20 2005
By Plaza Marcelino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I cannot but wholeheartedly share my colleagues' enthusiasm for this recording. I grew up with it (and, in fact still own the original 2-LP red album shown in this CD's cover, numbered by DGG -yes, back then they had an extra "D" in their name- as 138002/3 SLPM, one of their very first essays in the then novel stereophonic technology) and it still remains very close to me. Besides the 9th Symphony and the Egmont Overture presented in this reissue, the original release included an excellent rendition of the Leonora Overture No. 3, left out now (I suppose) so that a second CD would not be needed. The CD's higher transfer volume helps in bringing the sound closer to the listener (DGG apparently having decided to play it safe when their engineers cut the LPs' masters in 1958) and conferring to it an immediacy and transparency new to me whilst preserving its beautiful tone.

There's not much I can add to what has been written by others in this site, apart perhaps that by 1957 the Berlin Philharmonic still was very much, staff-wise, what it was under Furtwangler and it shows in this recording's sonority. After all, the grand old man had died scarcely 3 years before these works were put into tape, Karajan had just taken over the orchestra as chief conductor and the lean, muscular and to-the-point sound that became characteristic under his long regime was still two or three years into the future. Karajan took to rotate the orchestra's musicians fairly often, far more often actually than was customary with his predecessors and the results of the first shake-up became apparent when in 1962 the same company presented the first of Karajan's three Beethoven symphony cycles he'd record with them, when the orchestra's new virtuosity surprised critics the world over (Karajan had in his record a prior Beethoven symphony cycle, made for EMI during the fifties with the Philharmonia Orchestra). But what we get here, and in fine early stereophony, is the grand old sonority of the orchestra, the one that still had links to the pre-war years but which soon enough would evolve into an instrument capable of aweing its audiences under their new and starry conductor on account of its virtuosity and perfection.

But Fricsay's interpretations differ greatly from Furtwangler's. There is a tautness of approach, a more modern focusing on architecture that does not look back in time as much of Furtwängler's work did (but splendidly so, I must add), embedded as it was on german romanticism, but decidedly centres in our own time. Fricsay's approach to the Symphony's 4th movement is as modern as the late fifties allowed to, marking a singular kind-of-extrapolated cue to today's "historically aware" presentations, and DGG feted him with an outstanding quartet of vocal soloists. Yes, the 3rd movement is slow, perhaps harking back to the grand old man's ways but Fricsay gave us lessons of tempo handling in the first and second movements that have nothing to do with Furtwangler's fluctuations, an approach decidedly his, full of musicianship and with a solid grasp of the beethovenian language. So it is also in the performance of the Egmont Overture which fortunately made its way to the disc.

Yes, cancer robbed us of an immensely talented conductor who probably would have rivalled Karajan (who was but a few years his senior) during much of the second half of the 20th Century. What would have become of Fricsay's career is anybody's guess, as is the case with other conductors (like Cantelli, for example) whose careers were cut short by untimely death, but mind you, if you decide to buy this disc you will end up with one of the finer recordings this warhorse has had ever.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic! Feb. 16 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a fantastic recording of Beethoven's famous ninth symphony. It's the first stereo recording of the symphony, and still very few other recordings come up to its standard, if any.
The first movement is as it should be (and far too often isn't): lively, gradiose, but without pomposity, and in some way barbaric. The second movement, Molto vivace, really dances, and has a rythmic drives that carries it forward and takes you along. The slow movement is really played rather slowly (18 minutes), but it's the most beautiful rendition of it I have ever heard. Fricsay shapes the melody with real care for every little detail, and he manages to make it really sound like music from heaven. Then, after these 18 minutes of gorgeous serenity, the finale comes as a fresh breath of air. Sheer joy shines from this movement, in which Fricsay, unlike many other conductors, avoids being pompous. The soloists are all excellent and in top form, and they sing the music with real vigour and joy.
The orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, is in as fine a form as ever, and the recorded sound is excellent. It sometimes, but very seldom, gets a bit muddy, especially in the first movement, but most of the time it is really sharp with a clarity comparable to that of any later recording. There is only one little problem: There is a lot of tape hiss in the background. But then again: The performance is so good that you have forgotten it after five minutes of listening.
So, finally: A wonderful performance of one of the greatest symphonies ever, far better than the famous Karajan recording, which I find rather cold (compared to this one, at least). I must admit, I haven't heard any recording by Furtwängler, but until that happens this will be my favourite recording of the ninth. A tragedy that Fricsay died so young. If he had lived longer, he would surely have been recognized as one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century, comparable to Karajan, Bernstein and Toscanini.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Beethoven Aug. 15 2003
By Michael B. Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Ferenc Fricsay's performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (and Egmont Overture) with the Berlin Philharmonic has to be counted among the greatest versions ever recorded. Reissued on CD in the DG Originals series (don't confuse it with Karajan's 9th featuring a remarkably similar cover), this was the first version of the 9th to appear in stereo back in 1958, and it was Deutsche Grammophon's first ever stereo recording with the Berlin Philharmonic. It was a landmark event to be sure, and who better to entrust it with than Fricsay, a colossal figure in his day. Had he not died tragically young at age 48 in 1963, Fricsay would surely be mentioned today in the same company as Karajan and Bernstein. But Fricsay is presently getting his due as two recent reissues attest -- his "Great Conductors of the Century" collection won a Grammophone Award prompting DG to release a 9-CD box set of his recordings in their "Original Masters" series (see my reviews for both titles). Anyway, this glowing account of the 9th is a great place to begin with Fricsay, then be prepared to want more by this brilliant conductor.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Ninth Ever? Well, Is It? July 10 2007
By Moldyoldie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I've read about it for years; so many people saying it's the greatest ever, but I always said: "Ach, I already have too many Beethoven Ninths". Well, I finally broke down and bought it.

Some random thoughts and things that caught my ear to which I found singular to this performance/recording:

-First off, the recording is fine remastered late-'50s stereo, but cannot be mistaken for modern digital. Strings and highs might seem a bit steely, but that didn't bother me. All orchestral sections are vividly portrayed. Fortissimos are crisp and distinct, pianissimos well-distinguishable. Recording perspective puts one on the podium with what sounds like a multi-mike arrangement; i.e., typical Deutsche Grammophon. However, the winds, brass, and tympani are treated as equals to the strings, unlike later with Karajan.

-The first movement pianissimo string tremolos are barely audible beneath that marvelous opening motif, as well as later when repeated. I'm used to hearing the tremolos more pronounced and would probably prefer it that way.

-The first movement builds and ebbs with great aplomb and the crescendos culminate with tympani blazing in the same fashion as Furtwängler/'42, though not quite as overwhelming as to drown the proceedings and rock the foundations, but you definitely know the tympani are there!

-The scherzo second movement offers a tempo which I'd describe as conventional, certainly slower that Karajan and perhaps faster than Böhm/'72. No problems there.

-I had never heard the cellos as pronounced in the second movement as on this recording. Loved it!

-The adagio third movement is beautifully and slowly rendered; the notes say 18:00. It's not nearly as expansive as Furtwängler/'42's 20:00, but certainly just as rapturous with instrumental details aplenty! Böhm/'72 took it faster, but not as memorably or affectedly. In Fricsay's third movement, the soft pizzicato strings are distinct and the sudden bursts of brass cut right to the soul. This movement is often problematic for me, but not here. Beautiful!

-The dissonant beginning of the fourth movement sounds kind of wimpy, as if a chunk of the orchestration was excised. In fact, it's probably as wimpy as I ever remember hearing it in a non-HIP recording. No big deal, however.

-The beginning of the "O freude, nicht diese Töne" is very powerful. The soloists are definitely highlighted, up-front, and "in your face" -- they are the stars of this show! The chorus is appropriately recessed, but recorded with powerful presence. It seems as if the chorus moved slightly forward in the sound picture as the movement progressed, then receded slightly again behind the soloists. No complaints here; it was so subtle that it might be a product of Fricsay's balancing from the podium and not engineering derring-do. The orchestra did seem to vie with the chorus for prominence, but so what, right?

-The soloists are so distinct that one can hear many fine individual flourishes in their ensemble singing -- loved it!

-The tempo of the choral movement shifts from foursquare forward, to almost a dead stop, then ignites again, driving to a coda that's brought home powerfully and convincingly. Everything is beautifully under control and not hell-bent-for-leather, so to speak.

My favorites over the years have been:
Schmidt-Isserstedt/Vienna Phil./London (Outstanding soloists!)
Böhm ('72)/Vienna Phil./DG (A magnificent, high calorie performance and grand sense of occasion!)
Karajan ('77)/Berlin Phil./DG (Better recording than his '63, but near equally great performance!)
Leibowitz/Royal Phil./Chesky (They put the "JOY" into Ode To Joy!)

Sure, I can add Fricsay to the list. I was never "overly" enamored with Szell, Toscanini, Wand, Muti, Klemperer, Bernstein, Dohnányi, Norrington, Goodman, and a few others, though they're all seemingly well-regarded by some and certainly have their fine points. I've yet to hear Reiner's or Solti's recordings, both with the Chicago Symphony and both with their fervent fans. Nor have I heard the renown Gardiner, Abbado, and Barenboim. I don't have to hear the Zinman/Tonhalle, not after hearing samples.

I've also yet to hear Furtwängler's famous '51 live performance at the post-war re-opening of the Bayreuth Festival which some people simply swear by. I tend to take event-driven hyberbole with a grain of salt, especially after hearing Bernstein's "Fall of the Wall" recording. Furtwängler's equally famous and harrowing '42 wartime recording simply must be placed in a special category on account of its comparatively wretched sound quality, if for no other reason than for the benefit of novice listeners. However, I would also join those who suggest it's a performance that thoroughly demands to be heard.

The Fricsay is certainly a great recorded performance of the Ninth. The greatest ever? Hell, I don't know! I would definitely say it's worth the purchase. Whether it's worth the import price, however, is up to the individual. I purchased mine used for about $10 plus S&H.

I should probably also mention that the CD opens with one of the most expansive performances of the Egmont Overture I've ever heard.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YES!!! April 5 2005
By RENS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If one must rank recordings (and most of us do), I hold this one in the highest esteem and echo the accolades of the earlier reviewers. I think that, for me, this is the best recorded performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, given 50 years of listening to and studying this score. Everything works; all come together to create a unique univeerse of sound. Even the solo quartet are spot on, including the young Fischer-Dieskau, who sings lusciously smoothly and has not yet started to bark. Of course there are rivals, among which are Jochum and the Concertgebouw on Philps and his later recording with the London Symphony (very rare and hard to find) and Kubelik and the two recordings he made with his Bavarian orchestra (DG and Orfeo). And Szell's crystal clear reading with the Cleveland. And, not often mentioned, Monteux with the London Symphony and Schmidt-Isserstedt with the Vienna Philharmonic. But no matter how one ranks or doesn't rank performances of this or any Beethoven symphony, this one is among the best and not to be missed. The sound is superb, by the way, and to my ears better than many later DG recordings. As an unusual added bonus, at the beginning of the CD Fricsay leads the Berlin Philharmonic through a reading of the Overture to Egmont that takes the breath away. And then he tops that with this magnificent performance of the Ninth.
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