The Beethoven cycle of the 21st century!
Christian Thielemann joins forces with the prestigious Wiener Philharmoniker in a unique and monumental project BEETHOVEN 9, their first-ever recording of all 9 Symphonies in full high definition and Surround Sound. This recording from the Golden Hall of Vienna´s Musikverein is accompanied by nine(!) hour-long documentaries, one on each symphony, featuring Christian Thielemann and Germany´s most eminent music critic, Prof. Joachim Kaiser. FromRead more insights into Beethoven´s musical thinking to interpretational comparisons, including excerpts form legendary performances by Karajan, Bernstein, Böhm, Järvi etc., to historical perpsectives – no aspect of Beethoven´s symphonic oeuvre will remain untreated! This Blu-ray contains Beethoven Symphonies 7, 8 & 9 and the Documentaries about Symphonies 7, 8 & 9.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7, 8 and 9
Annette Dasch, soprano
Mihoko Fujimura, mezzo-soprano
Piotr Beczala, tenor
Georg Zeppenfeld, bass
Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Christian Thielemann, conductor
Recorded live at the Goldener Saal der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna
with Joachim Keiser and Christian Thielemann
one-hour long documentary for each symphony
Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese
Running time: 157 mins (concert) + 169 mins (documentaries)
No. of Discs: 1
R E V I E W
Among the best Beethoven cycles available today …In fact, this would probably be my top choice … an historic musical event.
This is the final instalment in Christian Thielemann’s Beethoven Symphony cycle. Much the same interpretive style is in evidence here as in the
second volumes: Thielemann tends to use a fairly liberal amount of rubato throughout these scores, including protracted rests, while incorporating a wide range of dynamics, often with sound levels dropping quickly and then swelling gradually back to mezzo-forte or forte. He also takes a more Romantic view of these symphonies than most other conductors. In addition, he manages to attain the highest performance standards from the orchestra, as attacks are potent and crisp, intonation seemingly perfect and playing ever so accurate. Some claim the Vienna Philharmonic is the greatest orchestra in the world, and while I won’t endorse or dispute that assertion, I will say that this Beethoven cycle would be strong evidence to support the contention.
The first movement of the Seventh is given a muscular performance, but with plenty of bounce to the rhythms. The Poco sostenuto introduction is paced somewhat briskly, as has been common since the 1980s, and the main Vivace section opens with fine work from the flautist. The strings and horns impart a glorious sense to the joyous main theme and the whole movement is utterly electric. The ensuing Allegretto has a stately character in its unhurried tempo, emerging from ominous mystery at the outset and building toward a dignified beauty, all in brilliant playing.
The Scherzo abounds in vigour, but there is an undertow of weightiness that eventually comes from the percussion and double-basses to offer contrast. The Trio offers rather staid music and it rings out with epic character. Thielemann conducts the finale at what would be described as a moderate tempo today, as opposed to the more breathless accounts by Abbado/Berlin and others. The approach works well here, the music coming across with plenty of energy and wit, and with a final sense of triumph. This is one of the finest accounts of the Seventh on record.
The joyous Eighth Symphony is a delight here. While this is quite a light work, there is, once again, a certain weightiness of approach. But it works: with minute tempo manipulations and deftly controlled dynamics, Thielemann shows that happy music can have muscle and big climactic moments that smile all the more. The finale is a gem: fleet, invigorating and with some of the most perfect orchestral playing you’re likely to encounter in this work.
The Ninth is a prime vehicle for Thielemann’s generally epic approach to Beethoven. The orchestral playing exhibits the usual perfection and commitment from the VPO in all movements, and the vocal quartet in the finale, despite their lack of star power, are generally quite convincing. Annette Dasch was especially outstanding. The chorus is fine too. To back up a moment … The Scherzo has a relatively leisurely tempo, but plenty of weightiness. Still, some may find this movement lacking a bit in drive. The third movement is also very broadly paced, but here Thielemann imparts a richer sense of Romanticism, which he is attempting to restore in Beethoven. On the whole, this Ninth is a splendid performance, possibly ranking with the best. Overall, consensus will have it that this cycle of the Beethoven nine symphonies will stand among the finest ever, I predict.
The sound in this set is so vivid throughout, so lifelike that you can hear the minutest detail: a couple of minutes or so into the first movement of the Ninth Symphony (track 14 - 118:30) the principal clarinettist in an idle moment blows against his instrument twice to clear it, and if you listen attentively, you can hear these breathy swishes quite distinctly amid the other considerable orchestral activity. That might be better than being there in a front row seat for the concert. Bravo, engineers! I’m glad no members of the orchestra were experiencing indigestion that night! The camera work is also excellent, always offering pertinent shots of soloists, instrumentalists or sections.
The bonus feature on this disc,
Discovering Beethoven, contains almost three hours of commentary on the three symphonies by Thielemann and musicologist Joachim Kaiser. It is a considerable add-on, well worth your while.
If I had to select the best Beethoven cycles available today, I would pick, different as they all are, Abbado (DG), Harnoncourt (Teldec), Jochum (EMI), Szell (Sony), perhaps Toscanini (RCA) and this new one. In fact, this would probably be my top choice, not least because of the superior sound and obvious advantages of video. In sum, this is the third and final leg in an historic musical event.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92by Ludwig van Beethoven Conductor:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93by Ludwig van Beethoven Conductor:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Piotr Beczala (Tenor),
Annette Dasch (Soprano),
Mihoko Fugimura (Mezzo Soprano),
Georg Zeppenfeld (Bass)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,
Period: Classical Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
So - You think you know Beethoven!April 17, 2013By Luke Bryant (Oakleigh South, Victoria)See All My Reviews"This Blue-ray disc is a gem. Not only does it present three of Beethovens magnificent symphonies, numbers 7,8 and 9, the recording offers three separate interviews, each about sixty minutes, relative to each specific symphony by the conductor, Christian Thielemann in discussion with Prof. Joachim Kaiser, the eminent music critic. Both men provide a unique understanding of Thielemanns vast project - the complete 9 symphonies of Beethoven, all recorded in full high definition and Surround Sound. Clear perceptions of Beethoven´s musical thinking and significant comparisons presented by legendary conductors such as, Karajan, Bernstein, Böhm, Järvi, etc., leave little of Beethoven´s symphonic work un-examined. These live performances are magnificent and are very highly recommended, but for greater understanding, perhaps should be heard only after the interviews. Luke Bryant."Report Abuse