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Symphony No. 9, Op. 125 [complete…

Symphony No. 9, Op. 125 [complete recordings] (1824)

by Ludwig van Beethoven (Composer)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (7)  All (3)  German (2)  All (12)
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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

[1] Overture "Coriolan", Op. 62 [9'00]
to H. J. von Collin's tragedy

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
[2] I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso [15'28]
[3] II. Molto vivace [11'00]
[4] III. Adagio molto e cantabile [16'25]
[5] IV. Presto [6'22]
[6] Presto - "O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!" – Allegro assai [17'32]
(Final chorus from Schiller's "Ode to Joy")

Gundula Janowitz, soprano
Hilde Rössel-Majdan, alt
Waldemar Kmentt, tenor
Walter Berry, baritone
Wiener Singverein
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Recorded: 10+11/1962 (Symphony) & 9/1965 (Overture), Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin.

Deutsche Grammophon, 1995. 75'58. The Originals. Liner notes by Peter Cosse. Lyrics (Ger+Eng+Fr+It).


This legendary recording comes from Karajan's first complete traversal of the Beethoven symphonies with the Berliner Philharmoniker. This was not, of course, the first time when a single conductor recorded this holy nonet; many had done that before, including Karajan himself with the Philharmonia in London. This was, however, the first time when the nine symphonies were marketed as a single set. This is why these recordings, as I keep repeating despite the vocal opposition, are overrated for historical reasons. Karajan was to make later four studio recordings of the Ninth Symphony more, two in audio format (1977, 1983) and two on video (1968, 1986). To my mind, each of them is superior to this account from 1962. Not that there is anything much wrong with the latter. It's an excellent performance in vivid and spacious early stereo, beautifully paced, tempestuously dramatic and with excellent choral singing in the finale. But the dynamic range is rather limited, at least by later standards, and the solo quartet is somewhat in the barking mode (Kmentt's tenor, if that's the word, is especially grating on the ear).

The "Coriolan" Overture is, for me, the highlight of this edition. Both the sound and the performance easily stand up to the digital remake from 1985. The latter is slightly faster and more dramatic, notably in the more prominent horns and timpani, but the early account is every bit as fine in a slightly different way and it does boast incredibly sumptuous sound. The whole string section, so important in this overture, is gloriously recorded, if anything better than in 1985. Possibly the greatest "Coriolan" under Karajan’s baton is the one he conducted live in January 1975. Fortunately for posterity, this stupendous performance has been released on the Karajan in Concert DVD in equally stupendous sound and picture. But the two audio-studio versions are no slouch, either. The 1965 account is also available on Famous Overtures (DG, 2003, 2CD). Whichever recording you choose to hear, you will know why Bernard Shaw called Beethoven "a temple of the most turbulent spirit that ever found expression in pure sound".*

*See “Beethoven’s Centenary” in Shaw on Music [1955], ed. Eric Bentley, Applause, 2000, p. 84. The piece was first published in Radio Times on 18 March 1927. ( )
  Waldstein | Jun 21, 2017 |
  USYDArtsMusicLibrary | Aug 10, 2010 |
  USYDArtsMusicLibrary | Aug 10, 2010 |
  USYDArtsMusicLibrary | Aug 10, 2010 |
  USYDArtsMusicLibrary | Aug 10, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (235 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beethoven, Ludwig vanComposerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bernstein, LeonardConductormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
St. Petersberg FSOmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vovkushansky, EvgenyConductormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, SheilaPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berliner PhilharmonikerOrchestrasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duvier, EugeneConductorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giulini, Carlo MariaConductorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karajan, Herbert vonConductorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
London Symphony ChorusPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
London Symphony OrchestraOrchestrasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
New York Philharmonicsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, AnnaPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shirly-Quirk, JohnPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tear, RobertPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, Brunosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Combine here all complete recordings of Beethoven's Ninth, audio or video. Please do not combine with recordings of separate movements or scores. Bonus tracks (e.g. overtures) are allowed, but for bigger works (e.g. other symphonies) please use the work-to-work relationships.
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