Bruno Weil / Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra / Tafelmusik Chamber Choir

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

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For this release on Tafelmusik Media, Bruno Weil and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir perform Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, "Choral," in a streamlined presentation notable for its authentic instrumentation and historically informed performance practice. The hallmarks of Classical style are immediately apparent, from the brisk tempos and the reduced size of the orchestra, to the straight, vibrato-less string tone and the distinctive and occasionally raw timbres of early 19th century woodwinds and brass. (Note especially the contrabassoon, track four, at the 09:36 mark.) Yet all of this is secondary to the effectiveness of the music, which Weil and his musicians keep uppermost in their minds. Despite the impression of delicacy that period performances often give, this Ninth, recorded live in 2016, offers enough energy and fire to dispel any notion of fussiness. This is not to say it lacks beauty, which is most evident in the elegant Adagio molto e cantabile, but Weil's interpretation strikes the balance between vigor and refinement at the heart of Beethoven's music. By the time listeners react to the Finale, concerns over style will have completely vanished, and the Ode to Joy will leave no one in want of excitement or catharsis. The recorded sound is exceptionally transparent and focused, giving the performers great presence and clear details.

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