Review by Ian Xavier Roskell July 26, 2012 (5 of 11 found this review helpful)
|The Definitive Beethoven 9th Audiophile recording...
I bought this 9th along with the LSO's complete Beethoven cycle (besides the point the every work of the cycle is performed with excellence.)
I turned to the famed 9th first, what is within this recording is a powerful performance with all players on their game a problem that destroy even the greatest conductors attempts to make a 9th is that each soloist part is very high and demanding but here each one prevails with smooth tone and color. I must make not of the great tenor in this recording, John Mac Master what a Job of wonder it feels almost that his singing is contained he is so strong, as with Gerald Finley but above them leading them on a very powerful take is Haitink, behind him all forces follow with power.
Much unlike his previous recording Haitink approaches the work with not a romantic light, but Modern one emphasizing a "Solti-esque" calculated journey though uncertainty in human love till the final movement of hope and joy. Even with the detail paid to the sublime intellect of Beethoven's music, the romance of it all is always on the surface, flowing possessing each note but it's both the heart and the brain that give this tamed beast it's gleam. If one simply wants the joy and feeling of it all you will still like this, but it's just not surface emotion so if one listener wants a simply emotional ride go listen to the equally great bernstien or tennstedt.
the recording is the greatest SA-CD Account of the 9th, perhaps even the greatest matched only by the immortal but forgotten Hans schidmt-Isserstedt recording with the Vienna Phil, that is the greatest recording by far but there are times where I think Haitink and Isserstedt are matched. Why? They achieve something that Beethoven and few others can put into music, emotion in its purest form, in the case of the 9th symphony an explosion of joy. On the technical side of thing the so called "dry" sound
is possessed with some of the richest instrument and singer timbres I have heard in all aspects of music, the richest part of the ensemble the soloists and the woodwinds such detail is heard in their voices both quiet and loud. I can write bluh and bluh about the great things but I can do that easy, getting the meat and bones of it the one flaw one will hear is the less emphasis on upfront emotion and power (As explained) so this recording really rests on wether or not one prefers to be showered in the beautiful moments of joy that follow darkness, or the intellect of Schiller's and Beethoven's Art.
Not too much too worry though this recording has both. Rephrasing on a technical level it's almost perfect the surround channels are used in a great construction of space, but it's more balanced not every channel is utilized . In stereo both channels are balanced with less construction and more of a studio mixed feel.
I loved this recording and put it right next to the isserstedt recording but like all great pieces it necessary to have multiple versions and perceptions.
This deserves a place in a Classical collection and if your coming to Beethoven for the first time i would point you here or Issersredt. 5/5
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