Kurt Masur / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

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Judged on the musicality and style of the performance, Kurt Masur's live 1981 reading of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is comparable with many mainstream interpretations of its time, and may be regarded as a reasonable choice among the affordable CDs put out by Berlin Classics. Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra are certainly at home in this symphony, and the interpretation and the execution are well-matched. For historical value, this recording is significant for marking the opening of the new Gewandhaus hall, which Masur was instrumental in planning since he began his tenure in 1970. Yet in spite of its strong points, the chief concern about this recording is its audio, which is acceptable, but not especially desirable when compared to numerous other recordings that are readily available. Berlin Classics' analog recording technology was good for East German standards, and the label produced some remarkable recordings in spite of its limitations. But time and digital technology have made this recording a bit of a historical document, and audiophiles will find it of limited interest. Even so, this is a solid rendition that deserves consideration, and listeners building a classical library may find it worth trying.

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