Beethoven, Schoenberg

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Schoenberg
LABELS: RCA Red Seal High Performance
WORKS: Symphony No. 9 (Choral)
PERFORMER: Jane Marsh (soprano), Josephine Veasey (mezzo-soprano), Plácido Domingo (tenor), Sherrill Milnes (baritone, narrator); Chorus Pro Musica, New England Conservatory Chorus, Boston SO/Erich Leinsdorf
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63682 2 ADD Reissue (1969)
This counts as a historic issue, the recording being Erich Leinsdorf’s last as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It followed concerts of the same programme in April 1969. Schoenberg’s condensed drama, relating a real incident in the ghetto of Warsaw when a group of Jews at the moment of deportation to the death camps began singing the prayer ‘Shema Yisrael’, is given a performance of harrowing vividness and concentration, dominated by Sherrill Milnes’s chilling but stirring narration and the palpably defiant singing of the New England Conservatory Chorus men. The knock-on effect is amazing, so that Beethoven’s all-embracing idealism – with as starry a cast as one could imagine from the time – comes across with renewed meaning and force. The sound, three decades old or not, is excellent. Stephen Pettitt