Bruno Walter's best-known recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, "Choral," is undoubtedly his 1959 session with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, which has been reissued many times by CBS and Sony. Yet in 1947, Walter made an important recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which was released in 1980 by the Bruno Walter Society and was digitally restored in 2010 by Music & Arts. This document reveals the conductor at the peak of his expressive powers and offers a vigorous interpretation of this symphony, despite various problems of reproduction and audio repairwork that are inevitable in a recording of this vintage. One can appreciate the strength and power of the music quite well, and the forcefulness of the performance clearly comes through, despite the extremely compressed monaural sound and some off and on whirring or slight crackling noises. Furthermore, analog hiss has been eliminated, without much loss to the frequency range. Anyone who admires Walter and appreciates the significance of historical recordings will find this to be a fascinating rendition, even though the boxy audio requires attentive listening with the volume boosted. However, due to the limitations mentioned above, this should not be the first recording of the Ninth one picks up, especially since there are many excellent choices among contemporary performances. Even so, Walter was one of the truly great musicians of the 20th century, and this disc will be appreciated by connoisseurs of the art of conducting.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 126 "Choral"|