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  1. #1
    Aging Smartass
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    Beethoven as you've never heard him before.

    Not long ago, I posted a thread about several new SACD's I'd purchased, including one of Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Osmo Vanska. I had read several glowing reviews on the disc, and after it arrived, and I listened to it from start to finish, I had to agree this was indeed the "definitive" 9th that I've been searching for now for quite some time.

    Vanska has recorded all of Beethoven's other symphonies, and those discs have also received very high accolades. I recently purchased three more: the Second and Seventh, the Third and Eighth, and the Fourth and Fifth (this is the manner in which they're recorded on each of the three discs).

    From the very start of the first disc (all are BIS SACD's), it was apparent I was in for a treat: it's almost as if these familiar works have suddenly taken on an all new life and vigor. Vanska'' skill with Beethoven is simply outstanding, and his lively, spirited readings of all six of these symphonies is nothing less than outstanding, surpassing all of the previous recordings I have of these works.

    A fine interpretation is one thing, but to have that combined with first-class, and truly outstanding sound quality is a rare combination for sure. Each and every one of these recordings is a testament to the outstanding capabilities of the DSD recording medium, and the SACD for playback of that medium. The sound on each of these discs is just plain glorious with superb clarity, fantastic imaging, deep, robust bass and a truly amazing dynamic range.

    I have no doubt the CD layer of any of these discs will delight any owner of a super high-end CD player, with or without an outboard DAC. Nevertheless, as the SACD layer is so much better, especially noticeable in its dynamic range, playback on a quality SACD player (of equal, or at least, commensurate value to one's CD player) is essential for some of the best recorded sound to date.

    I don't know why I left out the last disc in the series (the 1st and 6th), but that's definitely going to be my next purchase.

    Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra's recordings of Beethoven Symphonies are "must-haves" for any serious lover of this centuries-old glorious music.

  2. #2
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    I've been looking fer a great version of the 9th. Any way to get a copy?
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auricauricle
    I've been looking fer a great version of the 9th. Any way to get a copy?
    You can order it, and any of the other Beethoven Symphonies on ArkivMusic.com. While they may be available only as hybrid SACD's, you can still listen to the CD layer on a standard CD player.

  4. #4
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    That's great! Thanks fer the tip!

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    You might also want to check out the 9th from the LSO Live series.
    JohnMichael

    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Audio Technica F7, Moon 110LP w/PSU

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  6. #6
    Aging Smartass
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    I have no doubt the LSO's recording of the 9th is a good one. The review posted for it on ArkivMusic's site is excellent. Still, the review given Vanska's recording is nothing less than outstanding, giving it a "10" for both performance and recording. As I now own about 7 recordings of the 9th, with Vanska's soaring to the top of the heap in each and every respect, I think I'll put off purchasing another, at least, for a while! Still, thanks for the tip.

  7. #7
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    And ...

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    ....

    I have no doubt the CD layer of any of these discs will delight any owner of a super high-end CD player, with or without an outboard DAC. Nevertheless, as the SACD layer is so much better, especially noticeable in its dynamic range, playback on a quality SACD player (of equal, or at least, commensurate value to one's CD player) is essential for some of the best recorded sound to date.
    ....
    You can enjoy it multi-channel, if so equipped, Dude

  8. #8
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads up guys. I have my SACD player back up in my 2-channel set-up and need to start collecting some discs. My only copy of the 9th is on one of those $4 bargain discs. (what me go cheap ??? )

  9. #9
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    The only remaining disc in the Vanska/Minnesota Orchestra recordings of Beethoven Symphonies that I don't own is that of the first and sixth. When I last looked on ArkivMusic.com to order that disc, I was surprised to see that almost all of Vanska's SACD's were back-ordered, as is one of Telarc's latest - Paavo Jarvi perfroming Mussorsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Apparently, someone is still purchasing classical SACD's besides me!

  10. #10
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Strange thing, and encouraging the Auricauricle appellative, is my craziness for the 9th that has resulted my ownership of a few copies of the dern thing.

    So far, my favorite is the Musical Heritage Society's recording of Walter Weller's direction of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (DDD, Cat. no. 532409H). The pacing of the piece is vigorous and immensely expansive as old Ludwig himself must have imagined himself. Likewise, when the music is pensive or ethereal, one can likewise imagine the self-absorbed German sitting on a crag in Old Deutschland, watching as the mist clearing from the mountains as he contemplated the glory of God. Originally a Chandos production, the recording is airy and big on the ears, a very pleasant recording for sure.

    Other versions that I have listened to include Deutsche Grammophone's 1981 recording of Karl Bohm directing the Vienna Philharmonic, with Jessye Norman, Brigitte Fassbaender, Placido Domingo and Walter Berry. To my ears, the pacing is deliberate and somewhat pompous. The recording is a bit tight and heavy, qualities that belie Beethoven's obvious fondness for bucolic scenes and his reflective nature that makes me wonder if Ludwig was suffered an undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder.

    Similarly plodding in tempo and tone, I think, is Roger Norrington's direction for Angel EMI. This recording, although technically clean is rather uneven, in my recollection. Strings, horns, and percussion are recorded in fiull voice, but the ocillation of the disparate elements of the orchestra is not as pleasant on the ears as the Weller's arrangement, which is more democratic and harmonious. While I realise that the introduction of instruments and their various motifs is integral to the appreciation of orchestral music, this seemed a more slip-shod approach that resulted in musical cacaphony.

    The last recording of the 9th I will mention is Leonard Bernstein's 1989 Ode to Freedom, recoded by Deutsche Grammophone. This is a truly magnificent recording celebrating the destruction of the Berlin Wall. The recording brings into force the strength and force of 6 orchestras: The Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Dresden, Kirov Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris. The singers, who include June Anderson, Sarah Walker, Klaus Konig, Jan-Hendrik Rootering. Live recording in Schauspielhaus Berlin are equally up to the daunting task, and belt out their respective arias with such lyrical grace that I cannot help but cry every time I hear it.

    So now, I give you the link to this thing and wish you all: Bobsticks ('Sticks), Groundbeef (Beefy), Rich (Tex), Feanor (Feanbean), emesbee, Mr. P, blackraven, Worf (Sir Crease), E-stat, Hyfi, audionoob, Luvindablues, FA, Wooch, basite (Count Basie), JSE (Mr. Skirt), LJ, GMichael (Bugeye), atomicAdam, sugarbeats, Roady and the rest of you who I can't remember, the very best of things and thanks for welcoming me to your homes and into this place on the web.

    And now, I present to you my friend and yours, Herr Beethoven:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imv2M64t_og
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K4635W4roY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-GbesR5AEM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIsXmOHo7EA

  11. #11
    Aging Smartass
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    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Thank you!

  12. #12
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Versions - Sym 5

    I think it's instuctive to compare versions of works. My classical collection is certainly not huge but I have managed, mostly in recent years to accumulated several versions of Beethoven's 5th Symphony:
    • Bruno Weil / Tafelmusik - Analekta 2 9831
    • Karl Bohm / Vienna Philharmonic - Deutsche Grammophon 4775471
    • Willhelm Furtwangler / Vienna Philharmonic - EMI 5 86200 2 (remaster 2000)
    • Gustavo Dudamel / Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra Of Venezuela - Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 6228
    • Carlos Kleiber / Vienna Philharmonic - Deutsche Grammophon 000010136 (hybid SACD remaster)
    • Riccardo Muti / Philadelphia Orchestra - EMI 5 86411 2
    • Bernard Haitink / London Symphony Orchestra - LSO Live 598
    • John Eliot Gardiner / Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique - Archiv 439900
    I blush to say I've never compared them systematically. However two of my favorites are the Bruno Weil and Carlos Kleiber versions -- and they could not be more different from each other. The Weil version is "HIP", and unmannered & even tempoed yet lively and dramatic were appropirate; the Kleiber, a very famous performance, is large-scale, highly dramatic with subtle and not so subtle tempo variations. The sound is good in both cases, though the latter has typical symptoms of DG over-processing.
    ...
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  13. #13
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Ever the philistine, I like the "typical DG overprocessing"...
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

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