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Thread: Beethoven: Symphony #9 in D minor, op. 125 "Choral"

  1. #16
    Junior Member Konsgaard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by classfolkphile View Post
    I think the consensus here is closer to, it's a great, if slightly flawed, work.

    That said, it seems for many over familiarity breeds not contempt but a touch of jadedness at times (of which I plead guilty).
    The consensus so far. Asking one what their opinion of the 9th is, is like asking what they think of Hamlet.

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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    The Ninth is a monumental work. It sits right there at the top with other masterpieces such as Wagner's Ring and Bach's B Minor Mass.
    "My brothers, there's not a sinner in the world to whom the way of redemption is closed!"
    --Minne in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.

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    Senior Member Robert Pickett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by classfolkphile View Post
    I think the consensus here is closer to, it's a great, if slightly flawed, work.

    That said, it seems for many over familiarity breeds not contempt but a touch of jadedness at times (of which I plead guilty).
    ..the difference being you are expressing understandable jadedness, not contempt. Chapeau!

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  6. #19
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    This piece certainly seems to produce some diametrically opposed opinions whenever it comes up, particularly the last movement. I can kind of understand someone disliking the last movt, it feels like a bit of a loose cannon, and doesn't mind firing off a few volleys, so if you're not in the mood, love might be a bit hard to come by. : )

    But I must say I'm not one of those people. The last movement (to mention only that) seems to have such a disarming warmth, even tenderness at its heart, that it feels very human and personal, despite the grand scale. The leaping from one idea to another is thrilling, communicating such an energy, urgency and drama, and some of the vocal writing I find simply luminous.

    Some Beethoven symphonies/concertos can seem at times a little bombastic to me these days (it wasn't always so) but it always sounds right in the Ninth somehow. I think it's a great, moving work, and I'm not sure I find it flawed at all. I don't often listen to the symphonies now, but always pay attention if the Ninth pops up somewhere.

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    Beethoven #9 is a great work, and one of the greatest works in all of music....I'm not sure if it's LvB's best symphony - his self-bestowed competition is really stiff!! - but it is a magnificent musical achievement....

    My favorite, all-time go-to performance is Reiner/Chicago - a great performance all the way - Reiner makes perfect sense of the last movement, which has so many stirring, uplifting moments it's impossible to cite them all - stunning orchestral execution....great chorus as well...the recording balance is excellent, and so many great details come thru, yet the overall overwhelming sonority is very present as well... Toscanini/NBC is good too, but Reiner takes the prize..

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  10. #21
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    I'm always a little put off when people down a performance of the Beethoven because they "don't like the tenor", or the soprano is "too strong/weak", "prominent/recessed", or the chorus is "too loud/soft", whatever...
    LvB #9 is an orchestra piece - the orchestra plays, really heavy duty stuff, for some 50 minutes!! before a single voice is heard....3 entire, major symphonic movements. of course, the vocal parts contribute hugely to the power and expression of the work...they are extremely important, but they join the continuum, they mix with the flow already established...the work DOES NOT begin with the bass solo!! in fact, the bass solo is previewed by the great bass section soli early in mvt IV....Beethoven was just getting us warmed up, prepping everyone for the vocal entrances...

    Yes the vocal contributions on mvt IV are very important, but in the grand scope of this hugely dramatic, expressive work, they are but one element - the same can be said of other great masterpieces - Bach b minor Mass, Verdi Requiem, Wagner "Ring" - one weak voice does not, cannot, kill an overall great performance.....a great effort can indeed enhance a performance [Richard Mayr - Weingartner/VPO/1938] - but so can great orchestral playing as well...for these great masterpieces, that are among humanities greatest achievements, greatest proof of our genius - we have to look BIG - the overall performance.

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  12. #22
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    It's over played and over rated, as far as I'm concerned. I've heard it and played it too many times to count. Monumental, original, powerful - sure. Too many orchestras play annually now. The vocal quartet writing is hideous; poorly written is being polite. Some of the parts in the finale are unplayable. And some of it is badly scored. Felix Weingartner was right about the fixes it needs, and a lot of older conductors (Szell, Walter, Toscanini, Leinsdorf, Bernstein, Ormandy, Karajan...) adopted some of them. Has anyone heard the Mahler retouchings? Interesting and worth checking out.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I have the Mahler retouching. Some very good changes, some less so to my ears.

    Comparing Beethoven's 9th to the works it inspired in later years -- it's far more clearly etched, no vague fatness, no striving for "bigness". If it sounds big, it's simply because it is big. Every idea is clear and fits into the grand scheme, with an impressive structural clarity.


  14. #24
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triplets View Post
    I am so used to seeing this work praised, that I’m a bit taken aback by other posters having some criticisms of it. It’s a unique experience, one that shouldn’t be used as background music. I don’t like recordings that play it safe (I.e. Marisa Yawnsons and his ilk), because Beethoven was letting it all hang out here, and a recording should convey the risks, even if it fails to surmount them.
    When I said that it sounded like two ideas mashed together I stand by that. I wasn't being critical. That's just the way it's always felt to me. All of LvBvs symphonies seem to have a logical line through them but I don't feel that in the 9th. It's monumental, it's bold, it's brilliant. I never said I didn't like it! You know me, I'm Beethoven Symphony Obsessive (a condition I refer to as BSO). Of course it's legendary and rightly so. No-one else had ever done anything like it. As far as the Mahler rearrangement is concerned it was more a concert practice of Mahlervs to balance out the strings. Steinberg used it really effectively in his symphony cycle (excellent 9th).

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    But how do you personally feel about it? Do you love it? Why?

    I feel it's one of the most important works ever written. I do love it and I don't see it as flawed. It is not my personal favorite Symphony ever written but it is up there and certainly deserves all the credit it receives in my book.

    And the essential question - given that probably hundreds of recordings of it have been made - what are your favorite recordings? And, if you can put it in words, why?

    My Top 3:

    Bohm/VPO - To me it's simply amazing. It has fantastic playing, singing, pacing and the ending is as exciting as you can get plus it has one of the greatest selection of soloists ever assembled.

    Fricsay/BPO - Again, it has everything including some of the clearest choral singing ever put on disc.

    Wand/NDR - Probably my favorite paced version and while it may not have the clearest choral or best vocal quartet, it does everything right!

    Plenty of others I love and enjoy from a whole host of others but those are probably my 3 favorites.
    Last edited by realdealblues; Jul-25-2018 at 14:06.

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  17. #26
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    It is possible to hear this one too much, as it is used for ritual and becomes sentimentalized. The great orchs, like BSO which ritualizes it at Tanglewood, always give a meaningful reading. Regardless of interpretive fine points, it is always a visceral thrill to hear those first notes from the basso in the finale.
    i fear it will be appropriated for football games; Orff has already been ruined that way.

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