Yutaka Sado conducts the Tonkünstler Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Jost
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven * Jost
WORKS: Beethoven: Symphony No. 9; Coriolan Overture; Jost: Fanfare for 9 Brass Players, ‘An die Hoffnung’
PERFORMER: Camilla Nylund (soprano), Elena Zhidkova (mezzo-soprano), Klaus Florian Vogt (tenor), René Pape (bass); Vienna Singverein; European Union Youth Orchestra Alumni; Tonkünstler Orchestra/Yutaka Sado
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 740208; Blu-ray: 740304


This concert celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Grafenegg Festival, in Lower Austria. It was given last August outdoors, with the Tonkünstler Orchestra playing under a hideous and threatening construction of concrete, glass and metal. Unfortunately the cameramen found it irresistible at crucial points in the music to divert to shooting the local countryside, and the castle which spans German architectural history from the early Middle Ages up to Ludwig II-style. Even so, under the Japanese Yutaka Sado, now their resident conductor, the orchestra plays extremely well. They open with a fanfare for brass by the contemporary Christian Jost, proceeding with an invigorating account of the Coriolan  Overture; then the leading tenor Klaus Florian Vogt sings a rambling 20-minute song by Jost, based on Beethoven’s own song also called To Hope.

Finally we get to the meat of the concert, Beethoven’s Ninth. I found that in the first three movements there was almost no soft playing, perhaps thanks to the location. They get a traditional performance, with moderately broad tempos, sensitive phrasing, and insufficiently boisterous timpani. The last movement takes off, to the evident pleasure of all concerned, and with a marvellously magisterial entry from René Pape. The soloists are a distinguished team – and it is worth having the subtitles to notice, as anyway I rarely do, how peculiar many of the words in Schiller’s Ode to Joy are. Sado brings the Symphony to a Dionysian ending such as few conductors any longer dare or care to do.


Michael Tanner