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Beethoven: Symphonie No 9 / Böhm, Wiener Philharmoniker

Release Date: 03/14/1995 
Label:  Dg Masters Catalog #: 445503   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Brigitte FassbaenderJessye NormanPlacido DomingoWalter Berry
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera ChorusVienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender (Mezzo Soprano), Jessye Norman (Soprano), Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Walter Berry (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1980 
Venue:  Grosser Musikvereinssaal, Vienna 
Length: 79 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: German 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A Ninth for the Cosmos... July 26, 2012 By F. Blanco (Miami, FL) See All My Reviews "Few recordings of Beethoven's last and greatest symphony, the Ninth in D minor, have garnered so many differences of opinion as this recording by Karl Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic. In an age where our free time becomes more and more limited despite technology that's supposed to make things easier and more efficient, I can certainly understand how people find the pace of this recording unnerving. It's hard enough to sit for an hour listening to this symphony, much less 80 min.

I, for one, hated this recording when I first heard it. I felt it lacked the fire and passion other conductors like Claudio Abbado, Gunther Wand and Leonard Bernstein have injected into this work. Recent developments in authentic, period performance, led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Roger Norrington and John Elliot Gardiner, have changed the way many view this symphony. Brisk tempos and clarity of line with minimal vibrato seem to be the order of the day. And frankly, these new views and approaches have given all of Beethoven's symphonies new life, almost like listening to them for the very first time.

Personally, I prefer my Beethoven lean, mean, loud and tough. Carlos Kleiber's recordings of no. 5 and no. 7 are classic examples of the "Beethoven-on-steroids" I love. So this present recording of the Ninth under Maestro Bohm is something of a "black sheep" among the current family of Ninths in my small collection. My other Ninths are brisk and muscular. Among my favorites are Gunther Wand's recording and, more recently, Barenboim's and Vanska's. But there is something very special about Bohm's interpretation. Despite it's slower pace there is no lack of muscle, and climaxes have a tendency to erupt out of thin air.

Art involves the interaction between the artist and his or her audience. And the audience's response to the artist's work is going to be influenced by current events, learned experiences, state-of-mind, and preconceived notions of what the work is, or should be, communicating. Truly great art makes you re-think everything you thought you knew about the work and ultimately, yourself. But getting to that point requires time and effort on the part of the listener. Music is unique in the sense that the interactions that occur can be quite complex. Composer and conductor; composer and musicians; conductor and musicians; Conductor, musicians and audience; throw in recording engineers, and you quickly realize there are a lot of interpretations that can occur. The role of the conductor becomes tantamount to keeping it all together.

So the question becomes, did Bohm succeed in presenting a clear and unique vision of this often-performed work? In my opinion the answer is a resounding yes. From the opening bars to the concluding finale there is a sense of concentration, wholeness and "otherworldliness" that I don't quite feel with other recordings. I really think Maestro Bohm poured his very soul into this project. Whether or not you agree with that vision is a totally different story and completely up to the listener. It took quite a few sittings for me to appreciate this version, like acquiring a taste for scotch whiskey. Scotch is now my drink of choice, and although I won't be throwing away my other Ninths, I will always come back to this one whenever I feel like pondering the mysteries of the universe. This Ninth is definitely one for the cosmos. "
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