Osmo Vanska, BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9, “Choral”

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A great performance of a classic work.

Again from Osma Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, here's the crowning glory of Beethoven's symphonic achievement, a huge 80-minute creation that culminates in the first use of voices in a symphony. Again, this is a thrilling journey, from the mists of the opening where the strings dart about to the moment when the soloists, orchestra and chorus join together in a call for universal brotherhood. The rhythmic vitality of the Choral Symphony — the second movement in particular — is offset by the almost operatic sweep of the finale, itself making all the more impact for the poised, timelessness of the slow third movement. From here, the trajectory to Mahler's vast world-embracing symphonic structures is easily traced, but Beethoven got there first and with a concentration and depth of expression that still astounds today.