Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony no 9 'Choral' in D Minor Op.125

Conductor: Felix Weingartner
Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Vienna State Opera Chorus
I. Allegro Ma Non Troppo, Un Poco Mae
II. Molto Vivace
III. Adagio Molto E Cantabile
IV. Finale - Presto
IV. Finale - Presto
IV. Finale - Allegro Assai Vivace
IV. Finale - Andante Maestoso
IV. Finale - Allegro Energico, Sempre
IV. Finale - Allegro Ma Non Tanto
IV. Finale - Poco Allegro Stringendo

The infamous musical interpreter Felix Weingartner is here conducting the equally infamous 9th symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven. The man is renowned for his exact emotional span of pulse, as well as impulse, that shines through his lively interpretation of a symphony well fit for his distinctive expressions. Although perhaps missing a bit of the thunderous power that some parts of this musical work contains, his work become balanced by an emotional intuitive expression of direct and firm pace, throughout the entire work. In this sense, Weingartner is an excellent conductor, and through this recording from 1935, proves to us all, that he remains as master of expressing and feeling the inner core of the music as a whole.

Gentle, delicate violins begin the first piece, slowly building up the main theme by taking the melody to an intense emotional - as well as tonal - height, which marks one of the keystones to this symphony. Beethoven continues to build upon the theme by creating moments that both introduce and end each theme, while at the same time decentralising and deconstructing them, in order to emphasize certain emotions and feelings connected to the idea behind the piece as a whole. The music is joyful, but also self-aware and thereby not naive; every rush of happiness converts itself into a calmer, more self-reflective state of solemn passion for the human soul and the natural environment.

Where this music becomes blindly beautiful, is where Beethoven wants to contemplate, but cannot hold his emotions in control, as the nature around him force his feelings to ejaculate into emotional outbursts of a seemingly violent and uncontrolled nature, yet never losing the perspective of what made him joyful; each opening theme permeates the first piece, as well as develop it by standards set high. Weingartner manages in an excellent way, to oscillate between high and low emotional altitudes, reflected by pace and intensity of the expression, mainly through violins and occasional percussion.

The second piece entitled "Molto Vivace", starts in as the first piece taken to its logical conclusion; where happiness is queen, love is king - we can feel the entropic visions through the basic construction of the piece; delicacy finds its way through out breaking emotional tensions, creating an immersive yet self-controllable piece. This is reflected by how Beethoven starts out with a main theme, inflicted upon the listener by having violins increasing their musical intensity while lowering their play on the tone scale, until a breaking point sets in and releases the heavy bass drums that form an almost march-like and thunderous pace, leaving the music into the hands of natural forces uncontrollable by mankind.

Beethoven is outstanding in his way of preserving his feelings directly after having released them; the music directly drops its fully reached intensity, in order to conclude more contemplative and exploring parts, of the ways possible to lead the music in other directions. However, he always returns to his main feelings, which Weingartner present in an unmistakable way. The only thing the listener may find worrying, is that the underlying power created by the dark percussion, never becomes thunderous enough to lift the brass and the violins to a higher state, but instead accompany them, which to this listener feels neglected. Weingartner's main strength remains untouchable, but Beethoven's sense of explosive emotional expression that in many ways define this symphony, here becomes somewhat toned down, even if in a masterful way.

When "Adagio Molto E Cantabile" sets in, we experience another side of Beethoven; the world is beautiful, but happiness is not a lasting feeling. A quiet and peaceful, almost father like feeling, describes the state of knowing that we all shall die. As if watching small children play in the grass while awaiting one's own inevitable destiny, a calm piece balances between the formal now, and the lively present. Weingartner again proves to us that he's able to control the violinists with a great precision, maintaining a flowing mood without interrupting small parts of longer contemplation. This piece is more improvised and comes off as naturalistically human; while Beethoven at other parts of this symphony re-states his main themes through different tonal heights and instruments, he here lets his most inner thoughts loose in a way that makes us crave a conclusion.

And conclusion we are given, through the first Presto into the "Finale" of "Choral". Strongly and decisively, the brass paradoxically spews off a perfect introduction to a perfect ending. Beethoven paves way for a darker and certainly more reflective expression, felt by violins that at low tone scales gently search for its own musical future. Weingartner balances the feelings between awaiting joy and current uneasiness, only to introduce to us the main melodic theme on a very low tonal balance, then taking it higher and re-asserting its own importance by including the neatly accompanying oboe. The theme is joyful, heroic and powerful, and as we soon understand, also maintained by not only an instrumental expression, but a vocal-instrumental one as well.

The second Presto starts like the first, but this time take us into a collaboration with a dark, vibrating voice of a man singing the composed poem of Friedrich Schiller, called "And ode to joy". And certainly is it joyful from a holistic perspective, where dualistic components (good - evil, joy - sadness, luck - woe), come together to meet in a declaration of world-spanning admiration for the world as a whole. The main theme of the first Presto starts again, now with the opera-influenced chanting of several men singing the magical words of Schiller. While it starts out exciting and reserved, it suddenly explodes into an amazing correlation between the Vienna State Opera Chorus and the Philharmonic Orchestra.

High and loud shouts reach up to the borders of heaven, suddenly go quiet, and thereby let "Allegro Assai Vivace" mark its almost bizarre entrance through brass instruments. However, the piece quickly relapse into an equally fantastic piece as the one before, where Beethoven finds space to dramatize his instrumental outbursts, before "Andante Maestoso" plays its middle part of intensifying and broadening the overall impression of the "Finale" in "Choral". This is followed by the next piece, that hasten the pace, develop the melody dynamically by now letting the Opera Chorus define each musical advancement before the instruments have time to follow behind; the result is both effective and grand.

Beethoven recapture in "Allegro Ma Non Tanto" the basic musical construction from "Molto Vivace", then once again introduce solo performances by female singers, until men accompany them in an equally emotional manner, somehow reasserting the global joyous moments that circulate as basic idea behind the whole symphony. The last piece becomes fully expressive through Weingartner's unbelievable way of keeping pace, yet developing the intensity without losing any basic ground to stand on. In a wild ecstatic explosion the entire orchestra finish the piece with a both powerful and grandiose exclamation; our world is horror and our world is beauty, but as these two join together, life is ultimately worth living.

- Alexis

© 2006 mock Him productions in association with CORRUPT

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