Bernard Haitink / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

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Over the course of his 65-year conducting career, Bernard Haitink has recorded Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, "Choral" on several occasions, and this solid performance with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra joins the admirable recordings he has made with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Of these, the LSO's 2006 release offers the best sound quality, with direct stream digital reproduction that captures everything in the score, and it is recommended for audiophiles who require its transparency and spacious audio reproduction. For most listeners' purposes, though, Haitink has recorded a similar interpretation with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and despite the absence of multichannel technology, this release has decent sound that most listeners will find satisfactory and a highly detailed performance that is quite comparable to the others. Haitink's great virtue is consistency, and this regularity over multiple recordings throughout his career has made him one of the most dependable conductors of standard symphonic repertoire. Add to this the exceptional quartet of soprano Sally Matthews, alto Gerhild Romberger, tenor Mark Padmore, and bass Gerald Finley, and the robust singing from the Bavarian Radio Chorus, and the total effect of the symphony, particularly the "Ode to Joy," is impressive and thrilling.

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