Favourite recordings

 
  • Favourite recordings

    So what are your favourite recordings of the Ninth?

    I haven't heard too many yet, but so far my favourite is Leonard Bernstein with Vienna Philharmonic from 1980. I also like Ferenc Fricsay with BPO from 1958 very much.

  • I never heard Bernstein. I have the Fricsay version, and it is beautiful, actually my favorite from all the traditional performances. Although I also like some HIPs, like Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna.

  • I really haven't heard many, but at the moment for me it's also Bernstein from 1980. But I have just bought 4 more and when I'll hear them, maybe I change my mind. :)



    "There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction "

    - Salvador Dali -

    My blog - nobodylv.tumblr.com
  • I have the following:

    - Furtwängler from March and also from April 1942, they are good, but probably being interested in WW2 and having listened to a great deal of martial industrial also helps

    - Karajan from the fifties, sixties, and seventies (his first three full cycles, I'm not yet sure which one is the best, but in general I think Karajan was better with Bruckner and Wagner, with Beethoven he's definitely not my conductor of choice)

    - Harnoncourt from the early nineties (full cycle)

    - Ansermet (haven't yet listened to that one, actually I'm listening to that cycle this moment, and I really like that one, I think it might be the best traditional cycle - I'm still with the first few symphonies, hopefully I'll like the Ninth as well)

    - Barenboim (with the Divan Orchestra, also a full cycle)

    - Haitink (live recording with LPO from the last decade, also a full cycle)

    - Immerseel (with Anima Eterna, it's probably the best HIP, and also a full cycle)

    - Ferenc Fricsay with Berliner Philharmoniker (very good traditional performance, although originally I only purchased it because Fricsay was a fellow Hungarian, actually one of the most noted Hungarian conductors of the past century)

  • I can't enjoy listening to the Furtwängler recordings. I tried, but I can't. Sound quality is just too bad, too noisy. They are great as historical documents, but nothing more for me. I mean, I'm not really an audiophile, but for orchestral works there has to be a certain standard. It's not rock music.

    I also don't like Karajan. One Amazon reviewer explained it very good: "Karajan's own fatal flaw was a worship of surface beauty at the expense of content and emotion" That's it exactly. He's too much concerned with sound and everything sounds the same.

    I have to check out the others, which one would you recommend the most?

  • To me Harnoncourt is a bit dry, at least this Beethoven cycle. Not bad, just a bit dry.

    I just finished the Ansermet cycle, and it's too fresh. It's not bad, but somehow I'll need to listen to that one more time before finding out if I like it or not. My first impression was that I tended to like the earlier symphonies more and the later ones less.

    I would propose the Immerseel version, if you like authentic performances, you will like this one. I was initially skeptical, but it fully convinced me. Haitink is also very good, although I have a preference for Immerseel. (Haitink is closer to HIP than to traditional. Ansermet - although he performed around 1960 - seems to be somewhere in between.)

    Regarding Furtwängler, it depends on which recording you listen to. Both during and after the war there were recordings with terrible and relatively good quality. But you really need the modern stereo recordings with modern conductors, you will in any event listen to those more. Although with Brahms it's strange that I listen to his First the most with Karajan's 1943 version with the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (I also have Karajan's 1978 recording, but it's simply not as good), and with the Second Symphony of Brahms I listen to Furtwängler with the Wiener Philharmoniker from January 28, 1945. (Surprisingly good sound quality, essentially it could be a 1970s recording, except that it's mono.) With the Beethoven Ninth, both 1942 recordings I have have really bad sound quality, I wouldn't recommend them except as historical documents.

  • I just read the other thread, that you didn't like the HIP version because of the high-pitched sound and you also didn't like the tempi. I'm not sure if you would like Immerseel then (that's the only full HIP cycle I've heard), so maybe then Haitink is better to try. He is more conventional in every way (although I find him closer to authentic than to say Furtwängler or Karajan), and sound quality is also very good. (Although of course it's very good with Immerseel and Anima Eterna as well.)

  • What are those HIP and full cycles you're talking about??



    "There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction "

    - Salvador Dali -

    My blog - nobodylv.tumblr.com
  • Sviests4, I hope I don't misunderstand your question.

    HIP is an abbreviation of "Historically Informed Performance", which means using instruments at the time the composer lived (in the case of Beethoven, early 19th century instruments, from 1800-1827), and using tempi which they used to perform the works at the time, and using an orchestra exactly the size the composer wrote the score for. In the case of Beethoven, I think he wrote his symphonies for orchestras of 22 instruments, except the Ninth which was written for 33 instruments plus vocals. Now since 1850 his works started to be performed with large Romantic orchestras, usually triple the size, and they also started to perform them with different instruments (usually slightly different instruments, but that slight difference was enough to change the character of the works), and they also started to use different tempi (usually they slowed them down), and in general changed their character in many ways. HIP means a kind of return to the roots: they try to play them as they played them at Beethoven's time, with faster tempi, authentic instruments, and with an orchestra exactly the size Beethoven called for in the score: so they are playing the first eight symphonies with exactly 22 (and not 44 or even 66) instruments, and the Ninth with 33 (and not 66 or even 99). The result is... well, you have to hear it. Some people swear it's the way it should be played, others are partisans of a more or less Romantic approach, and I am a centrist enjoying both. (I think they should be performed both ways, because both highlight different aspects of the music.)

    Re a full cycle, it is usually a box set of several CDs containing all the symphonies, and played by the same conductor & orchestra, and recorded during a relatively short period of time, usually within a few years. E.g. Karajan's third Beethoven symphony cycle was recorded in 1975-76. But Bertini's Mahler cycle (the only Mahler I currently own, and I don't think it's the best) was recorded between 1984 and 1991.

    E.g. here is a full cycle of Mahler symphonies by Bernstein.

    Was this what you wanted to know?

  • Yes, thank you! :) I would love to hear some of those historical performances just to compare.



    "There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction "

    - Salvador Dali -

    My blog - nobodylv.tumblr.com
  • What performances do you have? Of the ones I own, only the Immerseel is a pure HIP (playing on period instruments only, etc.), but Harnoncourt is usually also considered to be HIP, and even Haitink is clearly HIP-influenced.

    Usually the biggest names in the authentic music movement (as this movement is called) are Norrington, Hogwood, Gardiner, and usually they include Harnoncourt (although his Beethoven cycle is not purely HIP). The first three I have never heard, but I might invest in one of their cycles. (As far as I know all three of them have complete cycles, I think Norrington even has two of them.)

    However, these days most recordings are almost always influenced by the authentic movement, this means most performances and recordings are at least dubbed "post-Heroic", meaning less heroic, less Romantic-influenced sound and performances.

  • I don't have any HIP recordings. Only new ones.



    "There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction "

    - Salvador Dali -

    My blog - nobodylv.tumblr.com
  • Sviests4 said:
    I don't have any HIP recordings. Only new ones.


    Actually, strangely enough, the new is the old. :) I mean, Heroic interpretations ruled supreme until the authentic music movement started to make an impact in the late eighties or early nineties. So new recordings (from the last 20 years) tend to be HIP, older ones (before 1990) tend to be traditional/Romantic.

    So I guess you wanted to say that you only have traditional interpretations, and no HIP. :)

  • @MonarchKingdom: Thanks for the info. I'll put it on my list.

    Yesterday I listened to both of Furtwängler's 1942 recordings aswell as the one from 1954 with London Philharmonia. The latter is really amazing despite its age and being mono, quite a lot better than the 1951 Bayreuth version, might become one of my favourites with repeated listens. The April 1942 version (eve of Hitler's birthday) has a horrible sound quality, really not listenable or even enjoyable for me. Also the performance seems often rushed and too furious with inappropriate tempo changes. But I guess it's understandable conducting in front of that crowd and considering Furtwängler was forced to conduct by Goebbels. The version from March 1942 is a lot better, but sound is still not good enough for me to enjoy it.

    Are there any other versions? I think there is another one from 1951, right? But is it better or worse than Bayreuth?
    I don't really know a good source for looking up such things.

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    Edited by hjbardenhagen on 14 Jan 2013, 11:39
  • @Kelemvor: I normally just search Amazon, but Furtwängler's Wikipedia page also contains some information on notable recordings. I agree the 1942 recordings have horrible sound. However, of Beethoven's Ninth, these two are the only ones I currently have.

  • @Al Swearengen: What I found on the internet regarding Albert Coates is that although he was a fine interpreter of opera and of Russian concert music, "his interpretations of the Viennese classics were less acceptable", and Viennese classics presumably include Beethoven as well. Also the 1926 recording must have horrible quality, but even it's better, it can only be mono. So if I were you, I would try to get a better recording as well, better meaning either better interpretation (e.g. Furtwängler) or better sound quality or both. Because it sounds to me that you have the worst possible recording, a less than fine interpretation with less than fine sound quality...

    (On the other hand, he seems to have been praised for his opera and late Romantic interpretations, and in my opinion the Ninth has more in common with late Romantic than with older Viennese classics.)

    Also this biography seems to imply that he recorded Beethoven with the London Symphony Orchestra. (So it's not just "Symphony Orchestra".)

  • MonarchKingdom said:
    @Kelemvor: I normally just search Amazon, but Furtwängler's Wikipedia page also contains some information on notable recordings. I agree the 1942 recordings have horrible sound. However, of Beethoven's Ninth, these two are the only ones I currently have.

    Yeah it has some info on Furtwängler, but it's not complete and only lists "notable" recordings. Other composer's wikipedia pages I've seen have no information on recordings at all. Also on Amazon the year of the recordings is never shown in the details, so you got to figure that out by readings reviews.

    @Al_Swearengen: You should really try some stereo recording, best something from 70s onwards. I don't see how anyone could truly enjoy such poor old recordings. They only really serve as historical documents.

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    Edited by hjbardenhagen on 14 Jan 2013, 11:39
  • Mp3 on top of bad sound quality makes it even worse.... orchestral stuff should always be listened to in lossless format imo. But I guess sound quality isn't important for everyone. Still with such poor sound quality, there are lots of details you won't even hear because they aren't audible and buried.

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    Edited by hjbardenhagen on 14 Jan 2013, 11:39
  • Then you should get some new memory chips for your head, they seem to be broken. :D But seriously, you miss out a lot with such old historical recordings. I don't see a reason why anyone would listen to those in this day and age, except if he wants to be trve and kvlt lol... it doesn't need to be top recent recordings, you could try Fricsay 58 or Bernstein 63 for example.

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    Edited by hjbardenhagen on 14 Jan 2013, 11:39
  • Yeah, Furtwängler has the traditional late-romantic style or however they call it. If you prefer faster tempos, maybe you should check historically informed performances like from Christopher Hogwood. Karajan is also usually faster.

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