Ruined by too much distortion, technically speaking
Kaiser Soze | 11/19/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I was doing perfectly fine with this recording right up until the chorus entered in the 4th movement. The distortion was intolerable. In fact, it is without question one of the very worst recordings from the standpoint of distortion of any recording that I have heard from this era. It is difficult to imagine how this could have happened, given the importance of the choral in this symphony and its historical significance, but there are evidently a lot of recording engineers with very poor hearing and who evidently lack the ability to recognize distortion when they hear it.
As far as concerns the debate over the "historically informed performance" aspect, I do not find anything remotely objectionable about this, and I do not understand people who have a problem with this approach to Beethoven and other older works. The critics who argue that Beethoven's metronome markings were in error and so forth clearly do not have any factual basis for such claims. In fact, there is evidently an historical trail documenting the significant changes that have occurred, over the nearly two centuries since Beethoven wrote this symphony, to the way it is customarily performed. Perhaps the critics believe that since Beethoven never got to hear it, he would have to right to decide how it should be played. If he were alive today, he would probably go around and beat them all up.
But as I said, this recording is fatally flawed due to the very poor technical quality of the recording, which, according to the copyright date on the back of the CD case, took place in 1987. Had I not encountered this problem, I would probably be inclined to listen to this recording many times in the future. Now I will have to decide whether I want to listen to the first three movements only and then stop without listening to the 4th movement. This doesn't sound very appealing to me, so I probably will not listen to this recording again. But I am still interested in the concept of the historically informed performance, so it looks like my next purchase will also be the "Glorious Ninth", only this time the Gardiner/Monteverdi performance. Hopefully, the recording engineers will have done a better job with it."