Ode To Freedom: Symphony No 9 - Official Concert

Release Date: 9/29/2009
Label: Euroarts
Catalog Number: 2072039
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

In Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews

Recorded live in the Schauspielhaus on Christmas Day, 1989, this Choral Symphony celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. And it’s some of the last work Bernstein did – he died in November the following year. In his short introduction, the director Humphrey Burton explains why it’s an ‘Ode to Freedom’, rather than the usual ‘Ode to Joy’: Bernstein felt authorised ‘by the power of the moment’ to change the word ‘Freude’ to ‘Freiheit’, which may be closer to Schiller’s original intention. So this is very much the record of an occasion. There are a few rough edges in ensemble, but the performance is more than respectable. It’s much what you might expect from late Bernstein: the slow movement is very slow, but there’s an affection in the moulding of the decorated violin melody which cuts deep. And there’s humour and a dancing quality in the scherzo, mirroring the conductor’s body language. We do see quite a lot of Bernstein, but the direction is basically untricksy, and the sound quality excellent. In the choral finale, the performance really takes off, with choirs and soloists singing at full stretch. Rootering’s first cry of ‘Freiheit’ and the choral answer are completely thrilling, and must have galvanised the audience in what was still officially East Berlin. Where are those hopes now?

-- Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine


June Anderson, soprano · Sarah Walker, mezzo-soprano · Klaus König, tenor · Jan-Hendrik Rootering, bass
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks & Rundfunkchor Berlin
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks & Members of the Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestra of the Kirov Theatre, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris
Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Recorded at the Schauspielhaus, Berlin, 25 December 1989

Picture Format: NTSC · 4:3 fullscreen
Sound Formats: PCM Stereo · Dolby Digital 5.1 · DTS 5.1
Region Code: 0 (all)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish
Booklet Notes: English, German, French
Running Time: 85’ mins incl. short documentary

The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 1989 unleashed a wave of democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe that radically transformed the world order. In a typically grandiose yet eloquent gesture, Leonard Bernstein spontaneously accepted an invitation to conduct a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to celebrate this freedom.

It was only fitting that East Germany’s new-found freedom should be celebrated with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The monumental works, perhaps the world’s most famous Symphony, was inspired by Schiller's poem “Ode to Joy”, a passionate paean to freedom.

Adding to the symbolism of the event, Bernstein conducted an orchestra and chorus formed of musicians from both East and West Germany (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden), as well as the United States (New York Philharmonic), Great Britain (London Symphony), France (Orchestre de Paris) and the Soviet Union (Orchestra of the Kirov Theater). Equally international were the illustrious and acclaimed vocalists June Anderson, Sarah Walker, Klaus Konig and Jan Hendrik Rootering

Works on This Recording
1. Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass), Sarah Walker (Mezzo Soprano), Klaus König (Tenor), June Anderson (Soprano)
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Period: Classical
Written: 1822-1824 ; Vienna, Austria
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