Arnold Schoenberg's tribute to the victims of inhumanity is ironically paired with Beethoven's ode to brotherhood--the same program Erich Leinsdorf performed for his 1969 farewell concerts with the Boston Symphony two days before this recording was made. A Survivor From Warsaw makes for harrowing listening; it packs an era of pain and suffering into its six-and-one-half minutes. A musical melodrama concerned with Nazi atrocities in the Warsaw ghetto, the spoken text (here, sprechstimme or pitched, semi-sung speech) by baritone Sherrill Milnes carries the emotional burden, the music reduced to the role of commentator leading to the sudden, climactic bursting forth of a unison male chorus defiantly singing the prayer Shema Yisroel.Read more Beethoven's Ninth, for all its struggle and tension, comes as a balm upon the open wounds of Schoenberg's vivid reminder of horror. Leinsdorf's is a fairly "straight" reading, without the oversized personality some of the great conductors of the past have brought to it, but also without their excesses and distortions. It has plenty of energy and forward motion, as one would expect from a conductor whose interpretations of the classics were, broadly speaking, in the Toscanini tradition (the timing of each movement is within seconds of Toscanini's 1952 NBC Symphony version on RCA except for a slightly more expansive first movement). There are some nice personal touches though--the way Leinsdorf varies the dynamics of the grand theme of the fourth movement as it passes from section to section, for example. And the entire performance has Leinsdorf's trademark lean sonorities, rhythmic precision, and crisp tempos. The flowing Adagio is well done, lacking only the note-to-note tension that distinguishes a great performance from an excellent one. The choral and solo contributions (featuring the youthful Milnes and Domingo) in the Ode to Joy are fine, though the substitution of a baritone for a bass removes some of the gravity.
There are other excellent stereo Ninths available, but what really separates this version from the pack is the recorded sound. RCA's High Performance series remastering of the 1969 recording yields breathtaking sonics; every detail comes through with astonishing clarity and realism. You hear what's lost on most recordings--timpani reverberations that linger in the air as the sound of stick on drumhead dies away, the depth of string tone, and magically delicate interplay of winds and violins, all conveyed with amazing transparency. Add to this a performance that's among the better ones of the stereo era, and this disc must be placed among the preferred available Ninths. [7/24/2000]
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano),
Sherrill Milnes (Baritone),
Jane Marsh (Soprano)
Boston Symphony Orchestra,
New England Conservatory Chorus,
Pro Musica Chorus
Period: Classical Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 04/1969 Venue: Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts Length: 65 Minutes 47 Secs. Language: German
A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46by Arnold Schoenberg Performer:
Sherrill Milnes (Spoken Vocals)
Boston Symphony Orchestra,
New England Conservatory Chorus Men
Period: 20th Century Written: 1946; USA Date of Recording: 04/23/1969 Venue: Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. Language: English Notes: This selection also contains Hebrew and German text.
A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46
Allegro ma non toppo, un poco maestoso
Adagio molto e cantabile; Andante moderato
Presto; Allegro assai
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
MemoriesMarch 18, 2014By David H Cooper (Rio Rancho, NM)See All My Reviews"In 1969 I attended the Tanglewood concert conducted by Mr.Leinsdorf of this program. The dc captures that occasion even though the recording comes from Symphony Hall where I heard many other Leinsdorf events. I was sorry to see him go. After purchasing this wonderfully recorded performance I purchased his book Cadenza. All in all many great memories and a few surprises from the book as well. Please make available all nine symphonies if possible on dc in the future."Report Abuse
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