SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Choral” – Helena Juntunen, soprano/Katarina Karneus, mezzo-soprano/ Daniel Norman, tenor/Neal Davies, bass-baritone/ Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorus/Osmo Vanska – BIS
Published on April 20, 2008
Recorded January 2006 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, this fine performance utilizes the Baerenreiter Urtext Edition of the score, and so to many ears this Vanska-led performance will suggest “revisionist” tendencies, like those we have heard in Norrington and Zinman. Most pervasive throughout the reading is Vanska’s clipped attention to staccato notes, which he plays without any sonic decay, almost without vibrato. This abbreviation of the notes’ acoustic speeds up our impression of the procession, though the festive energy and harmonic convolutions of the music remain intact. Even the chorus intones the quick passages of text in that style we associate with telephone operators; then, at “Seid umschlungen,” the legato aspects of the music emerge more potently than ever. The clarity of design is no less a factor in this refreshed reading of the mighty staple, abetted by Vanska’s insistence on the separation of his orchestral lines and polyphonic voices, which are so well articulated in hi-res surround.
While each auditor gravitates to his personal moment in this colossal score, I must first celebrate the opening chords, those open fifths that persists in the belief that heaven looms immanent in the moment. Vanska is careful to bring each period in the harmonic development of the first movement to closure, the architecture of creation as delineated as the Sistine Chapel illustrations. The Scherzo in D Minor features excellent antiphons from strings, winds, and tympani. Most lovely is the searching quality of the Adagio, which begins its extension with an unbroken sense of exaltation. The last movement, again clipping and tugging at the relative rhythmic values, achieves a simultaneous feeling of control and spiritual frenzy as the poet and the musician delight in the glory of Man’s unfettered possibilities. Quite breath-taking from start to finish, this is a fine reading of the Ninth with which to greet the new millennium!
– Gary Lemco