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Discussion: Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - Vänskä

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Post by fafnir October 27, 2006 (1 of 13)
I concur with akiralx's review and would like to add that in mch this is the finest sounding Beethoven Ninth I have heard in any format. I had some serious misgivings concerning the sound on the Vanska Eroica, but these problems are nowhere in evidence here. The recording is clean and well balanced with appropriate and not excessive resonance and the dynamic range is very wide without dropping into virtual inaudibility.

Having grown up with more traditional slower performances, I required a few listenings to be convinced of the validity of the Vanska approach. I now am convinced and regard this as an essential disc in my collection.

Obviously, in my view, this recording is a winner: 5 stars mch sound and performance.

Post by Steve Steckel February 27, 2007 (2 of 13)
I guess, based on all of the reviews that I have read, that I am alone in my opinion that this 9th is very ordinary. I am not saying that it isn't good. It is and may even be VERY good but, it doesn't even come close to the best that I have heard and own. I do agree with others that whether or not a particular pieces performance/recording is good, bad or in-diffrent depends on the tastes of the listener. In my opinion, the best 9ths recordings are Reiner/ Chicago sympnony, Abbodo on DVD video ( 5.1 sound ). I bought this (Vanska) largely due to the reviews and was VERY disappointed. Some may wonder if my opinion may be influenced by a sub-standard play-back system. Let me assure you that my play-back system is, at least, close to state of the art.

Post by tream February 27, 2007 (3 of 13)
Steve Steckel said:

I guess, based on all of the reviews that I have read, that I am alone in my opinion that this 9th is very ordinary. I am not saying that it isn't good. It is and may even be VERY good but, it doesn't even come close to the best that I have heard and own. I do agree with others that whether or not a particular pieces performance/recording is good, bad or in-diffrent depends on the tastes of the listener. In my opinion, the best 9ths recordings are Reiner/ Chicago sympnony, Abbodo on DVD video ( 5.1 sound ). I bought this (Vanska) largely due to the reviews and was VERY disappointed. Some may wonder if my opinion may be influenced by a sub-standard play-back system. Let me assure you that my play-back system is, at least, close to state of the art.

Steve, can you publish the details of your system?

I thought the Vanska 4/5 was superb, and I too was disappointed by this release, both performance and sound.

Post by krisjan February 27, 2007 (4 of 13)
Ironically, I listened to the Vanska LvB 9th again last night in its entirety(my third listen since aquiring the SACD months ago). I still stand by my review from last November (Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - Vänskä). It does sound to me almost "chamber-like" in spots. I find it to be a valid (and exciting) alternative to more mainstream interpretations. But, it is different and if you have your mind made up on how this should go, you probably won't like it.
Mark

Post by Edvin February 27, 2007 (5 of 13)
I don´t like Vänskä´s chopped phrasing. A friend of mine thought that this was Beethoven wearing an Armani suit. I agree.

Post by pgmdir February 27, 2007 (6 of 13)
I'm delighted to read these posts. I thought I must be the only one who wasn't blown over by this 9.

Post by Steve Steckel February 27, 2007 (7 of 13)
tream said:

Steve, can you publish the details of your system?

I thought the Vanska 4/5 was superb, and I too was disappointed by this release, both performance and sound.

My system consists of a Marantz 8300 into a Sunfire tgIII pre/pro into a Cinepro power amp. that delivers 350 watts per channel into two Definitive Technology 7000, left and right fronts, and a D.T.3000 center channel and two D.T. 2002 for the rear channels. I also have a Bag-End subwoofer for additional bass re-enforcement, which I may soon replace with a Fathom.

Post by tream February 27, 2007 (8 of 13)
Steve Steckel said:

My system consists of a Marantz 8300 into a Sunfire tgIII pre/pro into a Cinepro power amp. that delivers 350 watts per channel into two Definitive Technology 7000, left and right fronts, and a D.T.3000 center channel and two D.T. 2002 for the rear channels. I also have a Bag-End subwoofer for additional bass re-enforcement, which I may soon replace with a Fathom.

Thanks!

Post by GrizzledGeezer March 6, 2007 (9 of 13)
If it weren't for its impossibly turgid slow movement, the Reiner/CSO performance would be the one to beat, primarily for its utter spontaneity.

But "The Ninth" is a symphony that, overall, is very badly served, both in live and recorded performaances. One despairs of hearing even a good performance, let alone a great one; it seems to be beyond the comprehension of any conductor.

Vanska's is among the best I've heard. As with his other Beethoven symphonies, I like the way he reveals the detail (often in new and unfamiliar ways -- note the rubato in the last movement of the Eighth) without ever missing the forward impulse or overall structure. (Yes, I'm slamming Furtwangler.) The first movement is no longer opaque muck, and the scherzo takes almost no time at all, without ever seeming rushed.

There's nothing ordinary or dull about this performance. It deserves most of the praise it's received.

Vanska's Fourth is revelatory -- you hear the Third and Fifth in it, something I've never heard before. And the Eighth is the best I've heard. That disk definitely deserves a Penguin rosette.

Post by sgb March 15, 2007 (10 of 13)
GrizzledGeezer said:

If it weren't for its impossibly turgid slow movement, the Reiner/CSO performance would be the one to beat, primarily for its utter spontaneity.

But "The Ninth" is a symphony that, overall, is very badly served, both in live and recorded performaances. One despairs of hearing even a good performance, let alone a great one; it seems to be beyond the comprehension of any conductor.

Vanska's is among the best I've heard. As with his other Beethoven symphonies, I like the way he reveals the detail (often in new and unfamiliar ways -- note the rubato in the last movement of the Eighth) without ever missing the forward impulse or overall structure. (Yes, I'm slamming Furtwangler.) The first movement is no longer opaque muck, and the scherzo takes almost no time at all, without ever seeming rushed.

There's nothing ordinary or dull about this performance. It deserves most of the praise it's received.

Vanska's Fourth is revelatory -- you hear the Third and Fifth in it, something I've never heard before. And the Eighth is the best I've heard. That disk definitely deserves a Penguin rosette.

I find you arguments very convincing, Mr. Geezer, and I am happy to say that my only reservation about this performance has nothing to do with its unusual approach (actually, I find a lot here that is reminiscent of the Zinman, although -- dare I say it? -- I think each of these is confounded by pluses and minuses that would have most thinking that two recordings couldn't be less alike. The Vanska certainly has a sense of detail to it that I absolutely adore, even though it might not get the adrenalin moving. Zinman, likewise, appears to be playing his music for the politically correct, but he stumbles here and there where his counterpart in Minneapolis manages the course.

No, my only quibble with the Vanska is the singing; more particularly that of the tenor and baritone who've, apparently, not quite gotten the message. Right from the start, "Oh freude nicht dese tone" (pardon my spelling) just doesn't convey the sense that something earthshaking is about to take place.

This is my introduction to Vanska, and my interest and surprise is piqued enough to take a stab at the others in this series. For now, I'll give this one 4.5 stars.

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