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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 Choral Original recording remastered
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
I have never heard any performer make any "feel good" statements about this symphony. Toscanini, who conducted it countless times during his long life, declared that he never got to understand it. Orchestra members complain that they feel they have been reduced to "accompaniment" status once the baritone begins his recitative in the last movement. A retired contralto soloist who performed it all around the world once told me, "It's a bugger, John. I still go weak at the knees when I hear the introduction to the last movement." Sopranos singing in the chorus report that the high notes they need to attack and sustain leave them hoarse and exhausted afterwards. Can other internet visitors offer further performing insights?
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This scrappy performance was given on the occasion of the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival after the war in 1951. Perhaps Herr F. Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by Ronald Haak
People have already written some good comments about this. I'm really only adding because I hate to see so many 5s on a considerably less-than-enjoyable recording of Beethoven's... Read morePublished on November 20, 2010 by JStuart
I know many people will be angry with me for saying anything less than apotheosizing about this recording, but I will say it anyway. Read morePublished on April 26, 2010 by Elvis Beniamin Costea
Upon reading that the EMI version of Furtwangler's Bayreuth Beethoven 9th was not entirely the actual live audience performance, I bought the Orfeo offering of the actual... Read morePublished on October 15, 2009 by Duc de Guiche
Sadly, this famous much-reviewed, much-cherished performance has been revealed to be patched together from REHEARSALS for the live event. Read morePublished on June 20, 2009 by B. Stockwell
THis is an OK CD. In all movements, the recording mics were poorly placed. I found the sound very general in both nstruments and voices. Nothing clear and strong. Read morePublished on April 1, 2009 by CGonz