• 11-13-2008, 11:30 AM
    Just when I thought it couldn't get any better...
    ...the last of the SACD's I ordered from ArkivMusic arrived today - Osmo Vanska conducting the Minnesota Orchestra and Chorale in an absolutely phenomenal recording of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

    This disc is on the BIS label, and as I recall, at least one other member here suggested I give them a try. This recording is not only a Gramophone selection, but Classical Music Depot gave it a "10/10" rating: 10 (their highest) for musical interpretation, and 10 for recorded sound. In short, it just doesn't get any better than this.

    I've got 5 other recordings of the 9th, and have favored the Christophe Donyanhi recording on Telarc. Quite surprisingly the worst I own is a newer Telarc recording (availalble as an SACD) with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. It's especially disappointing, as it's a follow-up recording by Runnicles after his splendid recording of "Carmina Burana," which found itself on The Absolute Sound's list of "must-have" SACD's. Runnicle's 9th is perhaps the worst sounding CD I own, which is something Telarc's engineers deserve to hang their heads in shame for. Why such a marvelous work, and such acknowledged recording skills resulted in such a horrible, dull and uninspired performance is something I'll never understand.

    Ordinarily, whenever I purchase a recording of the 9th, I often skip right to the 4th movement, but didn't do so here. Instead, my wife and I sat down and listened to the entire piece from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. This is one of those rarities: everything's right about this recording. The orchestra is outstanding; Vanska's reading is at times very fast, but always inspired; the soloists are nothing short of excellent; the Minnesota Chorale absolutely splendid; and the recorded sound amongst the best available anywhere. What more could you ask for?

    Most highly recommended. Now, it's quite likely, I'll never play any of the other versions I have of this marvelous work. That's how good this BIS recording is. RUN - don't walk - to get a copy for yourself!