Notes and Editorial Reviews
This release, the second in Skrowaczewski’s new complete survey of the Beethoven symphonies with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first volume contained the Second and “Eroica” Symphonies), enters into head-to-head competition with another ongoing survey from Osma Vänskä on the BIS label. The irony, if it be that, is that Vänskä is leading the Minnesota Orchestra, the very ensemble led by Skrowaczewski from 1960 to 1969 – it was renamed from the Minneapolis Orchestra during Skrowaczewski’s tenure.
This review will be brief, so as not to delay you from visiting your nearest record shop or favorite mail-order Web site to purchase this CD. Every so often, a new recording comes along of one of
music’s seminal masterworks that cannot be ignored. Skrowaczewski’s Ninth is such a recording. Whether you are a champion of Furtwängler or Toscanini, or whether you have one recording of the Ninth in your collection or 20, Skrowaczewski’s is a compelling performance – vibrant, vigorous, tensile, and authoritative. Its forward momentum never flags or sags and Skrowaczewski galvanizes his Saarbrücken forces into playing as if they were the greatest orchestra in the world, which, for 70 minutes of magical music-making, they are.
Purists will be happy to know that the full complement of repeats in the Scherzo is observed; and all of the vocal soloists in the last movement are spot on pitch, and sing with precise diction and no sense of strain. Ditto the chorus, no small accomplishment considering Beethoven’s torturous writing. The recording is of demonstration quality, with some of the most visceral timpani whacks I’ve heard. Absence of a printed text and translation of Schiller’s Ode to Joy is an oversight, but should not be an issue for the advanced collectors that Fanfare readers are.
You will have to forgive me for cutting this review short, but I must run out and buy a copy of Skrowaczewski’s first installment of the Second and “Eroica” Symphonies. Buy this CD; you will not regret it.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Annette Dasch (Soprano),
Daniela Sindram (Alto),
Christian Elsner (Tenor),
George Zeppenfeld (Bass)
Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra,
Bavarian Radio Chorus
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria
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