Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Tolstoy’s War and Peace – those works of art that are truly part of the canon of global culture are few and far apart. In music, one work that holds significance for people all over the world is Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and especially its choral finale. Even today, as we are getting ready to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of its creator, the sheer size and complexity of the symphony is daunting. There are some eyewitness accounts from the first performance, at the Kärntner-Tor-Theater in Vienna on 7th May 1824: we know for instance that Beethoven was on stage himself throughout the performance, but that owing to his deafness he did not notice the audience’sRead more overwhelming enthusiasm. What the Ninth sounded like that evening in Vienna is something we will never know, however – which is why hearing it in a historically informed performance on period instruments is all the more interesting. With impeccable credentials from their 65-album series of Bach’s complete cantatas, and acclaimed recent recordings of Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki now give us their rendering of Beethoven’s last and greatest symphony, joined by a fine quartet of vocal soloists.
This marvelous performance is reproduced in superb, lifelike sound, full of impact but without any sense of artificial enhancement. Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan have given us an historically informed recording of the Beethoven Ninth that conveys the drama, humanity, and transformative release of this incomparable work.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Neal Davies (Bass),
Ann-Helen Moen (Soprano),
Marianne Beate Kielland (Mezzo Soprano),
Allan Clayton (Tenor)
Bach Collegium Japan,
Bach Collegium Japan Chorus
Period: Classical Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Smoothly played July 2, 2020By Gail M. (Goleta, CA)See All My Reviews"This Beethoven Ninth Symphony is well played by all the musicians, and particularly well sung by the four soloists in the finale. The soloists sing beautifully and are recorded so that they stand out from the choir. But to me the First Movement lacks the mystery and excitement one associates with the best realizations of this music. A nicely produced booklet of about 35 pages is included. The packaging is all cardboard and paper, which may not hold up as well as a conventional CD jewel box."Report Abuse
A spiritual performance without sentimentalityNovember 1, 2019By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Those of you who follow my reviews know that my favourite large recording project is BIS's series of Bach Cantatas with the Bach Collegium Japan, under Masaaki Suzuki. With this great enterprise all wrapped up, it's been fascinating to follow these fine musicians as they move on to other composers. A recent recording of the Missa Solemnis showed us that Suzuki was a very fine Beethoven interpreter. It's been exciting to listen closely to this new recording of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. In 2015 Maestro Suzuki conducted the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Beethoven's 9th Symphony. This is an impressive performance indeed, but on his home ground, with his own instrumental and choral forces, he has turned up the energy, without sacrificing any nuance. I see that the Bergen performance featured the same very fine soprano from the Japanese recording, Ann-Helen Moen. The rest of the vocal soloists, from both Bergen and Japan, are outstanding. As well, I sense some subtle interpretation differences in the four years between these performance. Suzuki has a more reverent attitude in the slow movement, while Beethoven's more boisterous passages are almost completely unbridled. This is, as I would expect, a 9th Symphony full of spiritual feeling, but completely without sentimentality."Report Abuse