Friedrich von Schiller’s poem ’Ode to Joy’ could almost have been calculated to appeal to the idealistic Beethoven. Written in 1785, it lauds the joys of fellowship, the happiness of married life, the wonders of nature and the universe and the eternal mystery of divine love, and as early as 1793 Beethoven was considering setting it as a song.
In 1812 he attempted a ’choral overture’ using parts of the text, but it was not for another decade that he was to find a true home for it when he made it the subject of the extraordinary and revolutionary finale to his Ninth and last symphony, the first ever to include a choral movement.
London Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Chorus
Bernard Haitink, Conductor
Total time: 01:08:08
Bernard Haitink, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra
|Original Recording Format|
Jonathan Stokes, Neil Hutchinson
Barbican in London, England in April 2006
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||June 16, 2015|
This superlative account of the “Choral” symphony must surely, good or great as the rest of the cycle is, be the jewel in this wonderful crown of the Beethoven symphonies from Haitink and the LSO.
At one climax, one can almost imagine that the timpani needed new skins after each performance! One feels the steely firmness of the LSO under Haitink with almost frightening intensity and it is no small relief when the final blows of this titanic struggle are over. For all the number of strings, the sound is gratifyingly lean (not undernourished) and allows all details to be clearly heard and further enhance the emotional impact of this astonishing symphony.
Haitink manages to completely capture Beethoven’s evocation of the first 3 movements in a snapshot before ushering in the great melody which is then treated to a staggering set of variations. The LSO Chorus and soloists match all that has gone before and soon one can almost “see” the stars referred to by Schiller. Unlike some modern interpretations set down on various media, there is no headlong rush into the concluding outburst but a carefully managed, yet joyously triumphant explosion of sound.
The LSO Live team also deserve every praise as this is by far the best sound from the Barbican that I have yet to hear.
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