Alexander Briger / Australian World Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral"

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Recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in 2011, this performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, "Choral," is an adequate rendition, though listeners may feel it's an overreach for the abilities of the performers and the recording engineers. The Australian World Orchestra and the Sydney Philharmonia Choir are capably led by Alexander Briger, a conductor active in Australian and international circles, and the quartet of singers boasts such increasingly encountered names as Cheryl Barker, Elizabeth Campbell, Steve Davislim, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, so there's no question that a serious effort was made in the preparation of this hallowed work. Yet in spite of the artists' evident integrity and seriousness, this performance is marred by some imprecise orchestral playing, cloudy textures, and occasional flagging of energy and attentiveness, which make it seem inadequately rehearsed. But the workmanlike feeling of the playing and the unexciting interpretation make this performance seem obligatory, rather than inspired. Add to the flaws and the routine approach the audience's coughs and a few clunking noises on stage, as well as the rather shallow audio field that has little presence or ambience, and the results will seem second-rate when compared to many great performances. In spite of the joint labels of Deutsche Grammophon and ABC Classics, this is not up to DG's usual high recording standards.

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