, March 2017
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphony No. 9, “Choral” (Šaturová, Mihoko Fujimura, Elsner, Gerhaher, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Blomstedt) (NTSC) ACC-20381
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphony No. 9, “Choral” (Šaturová, Mihoko Fujimura, Elsner, Gerhaher, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Blomstedt) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) ACC-10381
What may initially strike you as a mode of understatement in the opening two movements, crisply directed, lucidly structured and superbly played as they are, begins to take shape in the slow movement as a long-term vision for the piece: a symphonic celebration for which the finale serves as a necessary culmination rather than a challenge or retort to foregoing conflict. The Gewandhaus players keenly respond to that vision. In his undemonstrative way, Blomstedt has their eyes.
With a small change to the textual underlay and a cadential embellishment, Gerhaher brings a tone of regretful admonishment to his opening solo, like a latter-day Moses returning from Mount Sinai with tablets of stone. As though inspired by their new prophet, the choral basses cry ‘Freude’ with conviction and a smile. Among the other soloists, Mihoko Fujimura also stands out. I like the way she makes something distinctive of her final leap to the surprising D natural on the cadence of the final quartet. Blomstedt holds a long pause before the inevitable ovation and in that moment, and indeed illuminating his leadership of the whole symphony as the film direction often lets us see, there is something very like radiance. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone