Title - 'Beethoven: Symphony No. 9'
Artist - Seiji Ozawa
For those not in the know, Seiji Ozawa is a Japanese conductor known for his advocacy of modern composers and for his work with the San Francisco Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also the recipient of numerous international awards.
45 years after his debut Philips recording of Beethoven’s 9th, Seiji Ozawa returns to this epic masterpiece on the brand new Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, out now via Decca Classics.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral'
Inclusive of the wonderful Mito Chamber Orchestra - which in itself features many international star players, including: Radek Baborák (horn), Ricardo Morales (clarinet) and Philippe Tondre (oboe) - the German baritone Markus Eiche leads a quartet of leading Japanese soloists and the Tokyo Opera Singers in a fascinating performance on a chamber orchestra scale.
Let's be perfectly honest here, for having covered this terrain some 45 years ago, there are no real surprises coming forth from Ozawa’s newly revitalized treatment of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
That said, even at his age (82), he pushes himself to bring forth a freshly animated version of the work, that's for sure. Choosing not to overwhelm the work with an expansive orchestra, using this smaller Mito Chamber Orchestra ensues that the overall sound is more compact, better suited to the work; in my humble opinion.
Listening to this work of musical art, twice now, in fact, and I find the tempo is good, and he doesn't get carried away with unnecessary pauses and other artistic license. Nor do the MCO.
Sure there are times when energy beats out refinement, but that's not to say that the playing is splashy. Far from it for they play from their hearts and souls whilst Ozawa orchestrates it all with an inner smile on his heart. The most perfect of pairings, if ever there were.
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