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Beethoven: Symphonies No 8 & 9 / Szell, Harper, Crass, Et Al

Release Date: 10/19/2004 
Label:  Bbc Legends   Catalog #: 4155   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Heather HarperDame Janet BakerRonald DowdFranz Crass
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia OrchestraNew Philharmonia Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 37 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Recorded at Royal Festival Hall in a concert on November 12, 1968, this set duplicates stereo versions of both works that Szell made in the studio with the Cleveland Orchestra almost a decade earlier. The account of the Eighth Symphony (with a first movement exposition repeat) is strikingly similar to that studio version, but with sound that, while lacking stereo spread, is less diffuse with sharper textural focus. If the conductor’s straight-laced approach misses some of the wit in this score, particularly in its finale, his conception is nonetheless stylish and aptly blunt. Certainly, anyone who has admired the studio account will find this reading attractive.

This live Ninth Symphony contrasts to the conductor’s studio
Read more version in its more broadly paced first and third movements and its seemingly more jaunty finale. Moreover, the second movement (only its first repeat observed) suffers from overly amplified timpani whose rhythmic profile does not quite seem to match that of the same motif executed by the other instruments. In short, this is a reading that is primarily valuable for demonstrating that the conductor’s view of the work was not carved in stone. Note, too, that the total timing of these two discs exceeds the capacity of a single CD by only eight minutes.

Mortimer H. Frank, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Heather Harper (Soprano), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano), Ronald Dowd (Tenor),
Franz Crass (Bass)
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 

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