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Thread: Your favourite recording of Beethoven's ninth symphony

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    Default Your favourite recording of Beethoven's ninth symphony

    What's your favourite recording of Beethoven's ninth symphony - and why?

    Also, do you generally (as seems to be the norm) favour the 'old school' ninths of Karajan, Klemperer and Furtwängler or the so-called 'HIPster' ninths of Mackerras, Immerseel and Gardiner? Then there are the recordings that have a foot in both camps, like Chailly (fast tempi but 'traditional' scores) and Rattle (using the new Del Mar 'urtext' but performed at slow tempi).

    I myself particularly like the Paavo Järvi, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the Thomas Dausgaard, Swedish Chamber Orchestra Örebro for their clarity, brisk (but never rushed) tempi and general charm.

    So, what about you?
    Last edited by tempo; Apr-07-2013 at 12:46.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I'm still looking for it. Back in the late 80s I had taped a live performance off the radio, but have since lost it and the performers. Something about the performance or the mic placement caused the four soloists in the last movement to ring out louder than the orchestra after the second descending "alle menschen - alle menschen" (sp?). It almost seemed to symbolize the idea of brotherhood triumphing over adversity better than other versions I've heard. I've not been able to find one similar since.

    And I prefer old school larger than life performances.
    Last edited by Weston; Apr-07-2013 at 15:59.

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    I usually reach for Brüggen's latest HIP on Glossa! His interpretations make sense to me and may well be on the opposite side of what Weston prefer (?) .. I quite often find the over-romanticized ballooning versions of the pre WWII generations of conductors incomprehensible (even if there is a few exceptions) with little to do with (my) Beethoven!

    /ptr
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptr View Post
    I usually reach for Brüggen's latest HIP on Glossa! His interpretations make sense to me and may well be on the opposite side of what Weston prefer (?) .. I quite often find the over-romanticized ballooning versions of the pre WWII generations of conductors incomprehensible (even if there is a few exceptions) with little to do with (my) Beethoven!

    /ptr
    I like that one - except for the horribly flat brass in the middle of the third movement!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tempo View Post
    I like that one - except for the horribly flat brass in the middle of the third movement!
    That's HIP for You!

    /ptr
    Je suis Charlie ~ I am a certified OrgaNut! (F.—I.W.)

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    To be honest, although I've got several versions (Barenboim live 2012, MacKerras OAE, Karajan '77, Toscanini '56) it's difficult to tell the difference between them. I've not got the stamina to listen to the Ninth through more than once at a time, so it takes some time to accumulate the awareness of variations.
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

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    I much prefer performances where the andante is taken at a flowing clip, as Beethoven clearly meant it to be, rather than at a deadly slow tempo. Of "old school" performances, there are a number of points in the old Munch/BSO recording where he gets is exactly right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    To be honest, although I've got several versions (Barenboim live 2012, MacKerras OAE, Karajan '77, Toscanini '56) it's difficult to tell the difference between them. I've not got the stamina to listen to the Ninth through more than once at a time, so it takes some time to accumulate the awareness of variations.
    I'd understand that with the other symphonies, but to me the Ninth always contains the most obvious differences between different performances. I only need a quick listen to a one or two key moments in each movement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GGluek View Post
    I much prefer performances where the andante is taken at a flowing clip, as Beethoven clearly meant it to be, rather than at a deadly slow tempo. Of "old school" performances, there are a number of points in the old Munch/BSO recording where he gets is exactly right.
    I heartily agree! To me, it's screamingly obvious that Beethoven's metronome markings for the Ninth are basically correct - particularly in the third movement.

    I think it (the third movement) sounds absurd at 17 or 18 minutes long - it should come in at around 12 to 13 minutes, 14 max.

    I have no idea why Rattle takes it so slow in his ''Del Mar editions'' performance with the Vienna Philharmonic. I can understand obviously old-school conductors like Barenboim clinging to ''the way it used to be done'', but can't figure out why Rattle opted against taking it a bit faster than 17 minutes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GGluek View Post
    Of "old school" performances, there are a number of points in the old Munch/BSO recording where he gets is exactly right.
    Completely agree with this too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tempo View Post
    I'd understand that with the other symphonies, but to me the Ninth always contains the most obvious differences between different performances. I only need a quick listen to a one or two key moments in each movement.
    It's not so much that I think the differences can't be heard, as that the Ninth is so long and draining that any attempt on my part to encompass the differences - so that I can decide whether I prefer one interpretation over another - is liable to failure due to exhaustion!
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

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    Rattle I think is too self-absorbed. Heard his Ninth in the car on the radio. Didn't get past the 1st movement, but what I heard had very little relationship to what i think Beethoven wanted. Also heard a scherzo of the Fifth where the trio was at least 20% faster than I'd ever heard it done - played that way just because he could, not because Beethoven wrote it that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GGluek View Post
    Rattle I think is too self-absorbed. Heard his Ninth in the car on the radio. Didn't get past the 1st movement, but what I heard had very little relationship to what i think Beethoven wanted. Also heard a scherzo of the Fifth where the trio was at least 20% faster than I'd ever heard it done - played that way just because he could, not because Beethoven wrote it that way.
    I think I've heard something similar said before about Rattle.

    I think the late Sir Charles Mackerras, bless him, conducted a fine Ninth. Pity his excellent version with the Scottish Philharmonia is somewhat undermined by at least one audience member with such a severe illness that at times it sounds more like a Doctor's waiting room than a concert.

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    I have a weakness for Ferenc Fricsay's 1958 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic. Mainly because it's the version used in A Clockwork Orange (though aparently on the soundtrack album it was replaced by Karajan's 1963 recording).

    Other than that, I'd probably choose David Zinman's recording with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. It's a wonderful combination of modern sound, chamber-orchestra-like precision and HIP-inspired tempi.
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    My first choice of Ninth is Furtwangler conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. I could be wrong but I think it was from 1952 (don't have it to hand at present). It may be an older, mono recording but it is my favourite interpretation. It was also my first.

    There are others I enjoy greatly but none have been able to take the top spot. Tennstedt came closest with the London Philharmonic (1988 I think) and Harnoncourt did well with Chamber Orch of Europe. I don't mind Barenboim with the Staatskapelle but I can't get into is West-Eastern... Orchestra at all. It just does nothing for me for some reason. I haven't heard Klemperer yet so I may have to remedy that, preferably with the Philharmonia.

    As far as direction, I have no problem giving HIP interpretations a chance but I much prefer the "old school" interpretations.
    Last edited by AClockworkOrange; Apr-07-2013 at 19:36.

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