Album – Beethoven – Opferlied and Symphony Number 9 – Philharmonia Baroque

Posted by admin on October 13th, 2007

I have to make a sort of apology, before I even begin this review, as I’m skipping “Opferlied” altogether. Opera is really not my thing, and it wasn’t the real reason I got this CD in for review. The real reason is the version here of Beethoven’s masterpiece “9th Symphony” a piece of classical music that has been with me, in one form or another since I was about 10 years old. I say in one form or another, because I discovered this music quite by accident. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have discovered it eventually, but my first introduction was via a hand held computer game called Merlin, on which one of the activities was a free form music keyboard. What was really challenging, was the keyboard only hand 11 keys. One of the songs, printed in the manual was, yes Beethoven’s 9th, albeit on the highly recognizable bit. This is still something I bash out on a piano or electronic keyboard every time I pass one in a store.

Now let me state, I’m not a classical music snob by any means. Many of the classical pieces I love, I’d be hard pressed to name. Certainly the names of contemporary musicians performing them, mean very little, if anything to me, apart from the everyday household named artists. Suffice to say however, the majority of the performances I’ve heard have on the whole been quite wonderful, apart from a truly awful version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, by someone who shall remain nameless.

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is broken down into 4 movements, the most popular being the 4th movement, sometimes referred to as “Ode to Joy” as it features a poem of the same name, sung by a soloist and accompanied by a full chorus. This is the movement that always manages to give me goosebumps and is one that is probably one of the most powerful pieces of classical music I can think of. It builds and builds into an almost, pardon the expression, orgasmic climax. This is not a phrase I use lightly, but one I feel really captures the whole mood. Some people may be put off by the male soloist and chorus, especially those that are not necessarily into classical music, but I really beg that you give it a chance, as it really adds to the immense power of the performance. At 23 minutes, it really is weighty movement but by far my favorite, the other three coming in at between 13 and 14 minutes. What really surprised me, and something I didn’t expect, was that this performance is live, something I must have missed on the sleeve notes and something that I didn’t realize until hearing the applause at the end.

I’m sure some people will be a bit confused as to why a classical album is featured on Indie Launchpad. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long while and indeed did start to do when Indie Launchpad was begin. Hopefully I manage to introduce some new ears to the delights of classical music. After all, it’s all around, especially in pop music and many people don’t even realize.

Conclusion : One of the most moving and powerful pieces of classical music, performed by a stunning ensemble of musicians. Sensational stuff and without doubt my favorite performance of this amazing work. Try to give this a spin at high volume to really swept up in the whole performance.

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