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Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies / Mackerras, Royal Liverpool


Release Date: 03/02/2004 
Label:  Classics For Pleasure   Catalog #: 75751   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Joan RodgersDella JonesPeter BronderBryn Terfel
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 5 Hours 27 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I’m torn. When Hyperion released Mackerras’ second Beethoven cycle with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra–Philharmonia in the Ninth–I lauded the (occasional) superiority of the playing over this first effort for EMI, and I thought I preferred it generally. Now I’m not so sure, not just because the differences between the two really are fairly minor (Mackerras was nothing if not consistent), but also because when I listen for my own pleasure I find myself coming back to this cycle more frequently. Perhaps the reason is the more pleasing engineering, and the absence of those slight noises attendant on live performance that mar the more recent set and prove vaguely annoying on repetition. Or maybe it’s just the marginally more persuasive version Read more of the Ninth, with a Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra more willing to follow Mackerras’ period-influenced style than does the Philharmonia, while still offering the benefits of modern instruments in terms of warmth and timbral beauty.

Either way, you really should have a Mackerras Beethoven cycle, because he, more than anyone else, truly does offer the best of both worlds. No other conductor contributed more to realizing the goal of period performance practice–hearing the music afresh–while also bringing to bear all the talent and insight of a modern podium genius. Just witness the infectious energy Mackerras finds in all of the allegros–I selected the opening movement of the Seventh as an example (sound clip), but any of them would do. The uninhibited drive combines with amazing clarity of texture to really permit us to hear the music afresh. The slow movements, in contrast, always sing, and never turn dry or mechanical, as they do so often in original instrument versions. By the time we get to the end of the Ninth–and has that final upwelling of sound every been given such a satisfying sense of finality (second sound clip)?–we truly feel as though we have come to the end of an epic journey.

Also, if price is a consideration, this Classics for Pleasure incarnation offers great value for your money, especially as compared to the Hyperion set. A Beethoven cycle to treasure, then, but the truth is that both of them are. Not all choices are so difficult, or happily so enjoyable.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Joan Rodgers (Soprano), Della Jones (Alto), Peter Bronder (Tenor),
Bryn Terfel (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 

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