Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor (Choral)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Symphony No. 9 in D minor (Choral)
PERFORMER: Solveig Kringelborn (soprano), Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Moser (tenor), Alan Titus (bass) Dresden Staatskapelle & State Opera Chorus/Giuseppe Sinopoli
CATALOGUE NO: 453 423-2
The playing bears witness to the long involvement that this orchestra has had with this music: there’s complete unanimity of ensemble, phrasing and tuning. Sinopoli’s way with the symphony is big-boned and old-fashioned, without regard for authentic notions of tempo and performance style. Notably, this means that the slow movement is very slow, and every expressive nuance is overdone, so that it begins to sound like Mahler. But it’s Sinopoli’s obsession with detail that really gets in the way of overall coherence. Right from the beginning, where the tremolo sextuplets in the strings are completely measured, with an accent on each beat, the music is robbed of its mystery. The recording exaggerates this: it was made live at a concert in the Semperoper in Dresden, and the engineers have miked everything closely, perhaps to avoid audience noise (though there is the odd distant cough). The result is a complete lack of any natural acoustic, which leaves the sound no space for expansion, and this in-your-face quality becomes wearing very quickly. It does no favours for the soloists in the finale, especially the men, who sound forced. Not a contender in an already crowded field. Martin Cotton

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