BEETHOVEN: The Nine Symphonies – Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig/Kurt Masur – Pentatone SACD set

by | Jul 9, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: The Nine Symphonies – Gewandhaus Orchestra of
Leipzig/Kurt Masur (Rec. 1972-1974) – Pentatone multichannel RQR Series
SACD (5-disc set) PTC 5186 159, 5 hrs., 44:57 *

This Beethoven cycle, originally issued on Philips LPs in 1975 and
mixed down to stereo for that purpose, quickly became a standard with
collectors as a no-nonsense, straightforward interpretation free of the
idiosyncrasies of some of the competition.  There may be somewhat
less dramatic impact in the big climaxes than one would hear from
Reiner, Karajan and their ilk but there is a flow and naturalness that
draws one into the music effectively.  Toscanini has the drama and
emotional depth in spades but by today’s standards in execrable sound.
Of course the surround sound display is a major factor in the more
immersive feeling of these interpretations. The original four channel
tapes intended for quad release on vinyl have been transferred directly
to the front two channels and the two surrounds, without deriving a
center or LFE channel. The Gewandhaus boasts fine acoustics, so the
impression of the hall environment adds to the listening experience.
Sonically one would never guess that these recordings are more than 30
years old, and the center channel is not really missed.

The Seventh is delivered with an emphasis on its dance-like nature, and
the Pastoral Symphony flows thru bucolic pastures with an elan
atmosphere.  The Third and especially the Ninth are powerful
interpretations with a richness of sound and impact.  Comparison
with the standard CDs of any of the symphonies in my collection – even
with surround generated via Pro Logic II – pointed up the great
clarity, detail and soundstaging of the RQR recordings. The packaging
is in one of those extremely compact little boxes, with the five discs
in plain paper sleeves, so it won’t take up any more room on your shelf
than a double-CD jewel box. Recommended – especially if you eschew the
Karajan SACD set, for whatever reasons.

– John Sunier

Related Reviews
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01
Logo Pure Pleasure