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Sym 9 Choral

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Jan. 12 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B00000GCA7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #143,833 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125 'Choral': Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
2. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125 'Choral': Molto vivace
3. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125 'Choral': Adagio molto e cantabile - Andante moderato - Adagio
4. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125 'Choral': Presto - Allegro ma non troppo - Allegro Assai - Allegro assai vivace - alla marcia - Andante maestoso - Allegro - Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato - Allegro ma non tanto - Poco adagio - Prestissimo

Product Description

Amazon.ca

No single performance will ever tell us everything we need to know about a masterpiece like the Beethoven Ninth, but this one comes close. The inspired intensity of everyone involved--at the postwar reopening of the Bayreuth Festival in 1951--comes across very vividly in this new transfer. Just hear the way Furtwángler evokes the atmosphere of chaos coalescing into order at the opening of the first movement and you can tell a superior musical and spiritual consciousness is at work. Except for the poor first horn, whose bloopers are the main detriment, the orchestra, soloists, and chorus (recorded clearly but at a heavenly distance) all hold up their parts extremely well. The solo singers are particularly convincing. This is a very special recording, recognized as a classic when it was first issued and still indispensable. --Leslie Gerber

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Format: Audio CD
I first heard this magnificent Beethoven 9th in the early 1970's on a poor Seraphim LP transfer, never dreaming it could sound as good as it does here. That first hearing turned my entire view of great orchestral interpretation upside down. Previously, I had felt that Toscanini's was the finest interpretation. But by the time I reached the first mvt. coda of this live 9th from Bayreuth, my perceptions of musical eloquence had been changed forever. I simply had no idea of what power, breadth, majesty, grandeur and originality this music contained until I heard Furtwangler.
This is one of about 10 Beethoven 9th recordings by Furtwangler, all of them "live." They are all fascinating. There is a general consensus that Furtwangler's three finest readings are this one, the 1942 BPO from Berlin, and the 1954 Philharmonia from Lucerne. Here is a summary:
1. This Furtwangler (1951) with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus (Schwarzkopf, Hongen, Hopf, & Edelmann). It is less extreme than the 1942 and has more energy and passion than the 1954. Schwarzkopf is superb, Edelmann is excellent. The other Furtwangler 9ths listed here are better played (no wavering horn player in the Adagio), but this one has a special sense of occasion that makes it unique. The CD transfer here is identical to the one in the complete Beethoven set on EMI. So if you already have that one, there is no need to buy this one.
2. Furtwangler/BPO 1942, Bruno Kittel Choir, with Tilla Briem, Elisabeth Hongen, Peter Anders, and Rudolph Watzke (Music & Arts CD 4049). This is the most impassioned and dramatic of ALL 9ths. The BPO plays as if possessed, and the singers (except for Briem's shaky high notes) are superb.
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Format: Audio CD
No one could call this 1951 performance of Beethoven's glorious 9th Symphony perfect. Some of the orchestral playing is uneven, the sound is rough and some of the singing is flawed. But, despite these technical flaws, what this recording achieves emotionally is beyond belief.
First and foremost is the indescribably inspired, unbelievably moving conducting of Wilhelm Furtwängler, the greatest conductor of the twentieth century. He infuses every bar with enormous warmth and majestic radiance, while holding his huge forces together flawlessly. His interpretation has an otherworldly, Olympian quality, particularly in the hushed serenity of the third movement and the exhilaration of the fourth movement, while remaining perfectly warm and human. Even by his standards, this is an outstanding performance. With the exception of the first horn, the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra plays magnificently, fully up to communicating Furtwängler's vision of this piece. Even the first horn, who bungles his entry in the third movement, contributes some elegant, beautiful phrasing. In the final movement, the chorus and solo quartet are generally excellent. Standing out even from this excellence is the radiant voice of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, here at her most straightforward peak. She redeems a slightly choppy first line with some sublime singing toward the end of the movement. Her high B's there are some of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. The contralto, Elisabeth Höngen, is not on this level. She is rather uneven throughout her part, but her voice is beautiful enough. Hans Hopf is an excellent tenor, with a juicy, ringing voice, and Otto Edelmann is a firm-voiced, resonant bass. The chorus sings excellently.
Some people may find the sound too primitive for comfort.
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Format: Audio CD
This recording was taken from both rehearsals and the live performance of the opening concert at the 1951 Bayreuth Festival. Wagner's grandsons, Wolfgang and Wieland, had reopened the Festival after the postwar confusion, and thus the occasion was signifigant for all involved. Furtwaengler conducts a star vocal ensemble, and the orchestra is for the most part worthy. Furtwaengler was an idosyncratic, highly subjective conductor. Those brought up on the more clinical, studio readings of the analog stereo and digital eras will be puzzled at the contrasts in tempi (say, third movement with the finale of the fourth). And yes, the recording is in mono sound. Nonetheless, the recording deserves its five star rating. Furtwaengler's interpretation achieves sonically what most of us feel or otherwise subjectively experience when listening to the Ninth: chaos, energy, reflection, and joy coupled with resolution of the first three moods. Many of us first experienced this recording while on limited budgets and only able to afford the budget EMI/Angel Seraphim release. Over the years, we may have purchased other readings of the Ninth. However, many find they always make their way back to the Furtwaentler recording. It's a disc set not only to listen to, but also to experience.
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Format: Audio CD
This certainly is not a perfect recording, but its plusses so far outweigh its downsides that to give this anything other than 5 stars seems ridiculous. From a technical side, I have to say that I was VERY impressed with the sound. Honestly, its hard for me to tell that this is in mono, and I don't have bad hearing. This has wonderful dynamic range and everything comes through with crystal clarity. The only negatives from the sound quality are the acoustics of the Festspielhaus, which seem to put too much emphasis on the tympani and (I think this is due more to acoustics than performance) too little on the chorus. Thank you EMI for doing such a fine job restoring such an important recording! The symphony is quite well performed as well. The Bayreuth orchestra projects Furtwangler's concept very clearly, and has a wonderfully "meaty" sound. Some previous reviewers have made a big fuss about the less than perfect horn solo in the third movement, but this did not really bother me. The chorus is not really great (the Bruno Kittel choir gives a much better performance in Furtwangler's '42 recording), but it is satisfactory. Otto Edelmann is truly fantastic here. I cannot imagine his part being better performed, and I have to say that he tops even Walter Berry's wonderful performance from Karajan's '62 recording. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as is to be expected provides an excellent performance, especially in the a capella quartet towards the end, but in my mind a still better performance of her part was turned in by Gundula Janowitz, again from Karajan's '62 recording. Overall though, I think one could make the case that here is the best quartet on record, although I'm not 100% sure that I would agree with that.Read more ›
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