Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Best Beethoven 9?

Unfortunately, I don't have time to listen to it all today. But just judging from the first movement, this performance by the nearly-forgotten Hermann Abendroth and the Czech Philharmonic very well may be the greatest I've ever heard. It has all the flexibility which German music needs without the Wagner/Furtwangler type sanctimoniousness masquerading as depth which disfigures so many performances of this piece - music's all-time sacred cow - into a monumental zzzzzzzzzzzzzz-fest. In its place is all the fire that a great Beethoven performance needs. I'm not sure I've ever heard the first movement played with this much excitement. Ever. Not by Mengelberg or Karajan or Wand or Blomstedt or Weingartner or Norrington or Bernstein or Szell or Horenstein or Tennstedt or Gardiner or anybody else I'm forgetting from my personal pantheon of great Beethoven 9 recordings.

Top 5 Beethoven 9 First Movements:

1. Abendroth
2. Wand
3. Mengelberg
4. Blomstedt
5. Tennstedt

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