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  Telarc -
  Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - Runnicles
  Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral"

Mary Dunleavy (soprano)
Elizabeth Bishop (mezzo soprano)
Stephen Gould (tenor)
Alastair Miles (bass)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Donald Runnicles (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded in Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Centre, Atlanta, Georgia
January 25 and 26, 2003

Recording Producer: Robert Woods
Recording and Mix Engineer: Michael Bishop
Engineering Assistants: James Yates, Todd Brown
Editor: Thomas C. Moore
SACD Production Supervisor: Erica Brenner

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Related titles: 5

Britannia - Runnicles        

Reviews: 6 show all

Review by stvnharr November 25, 2003 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I got this recording not quite sure what to expect after reading the 2 reviews, and with the Karajan disc of the '76 recording being a huge disappointment. Donald Runnicles was not exactly a familiar conductor to me, as I don't follow opera much. However, I have found that Telarc usually does make a good recording.
I've had quite a number of Beethoven 9ths go through my collection through the years. I've always been a bit partial to the '63 Karajan recording of the 9th. It has stood up to all others for performance and recorded sound. I once had the Sawallisch EMI set in my collection, and I felt the 9th to be a fairly ordinary sounding recording, although the recording of the 1st was superb.
This recording with the Atlanta Orchestra really comes close to the '63 Karajan recording. Even Alistair Miles comes reasonably close to Walter Berry. I don't think I have enjoyed listening to a recording of the 9th as much as I enjoyed listening to this one.

Contrary to some views, I thought Michael Bishop, the recording engineer, did a reasonable job with the sound. Sound is a little bass heavy, what some have called "muffled". And the climaxes of the First movement are very loud and complex making it difficult for many systems to resolve. But overall, I thought the sound to be quite decent.

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Review by Antonio February 15, 2006 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I completely agree with the Dinko,Rolavine,SGB,... "muffled high frequencies and tubby bass", Can't put it better ....
I do not understant why Telarc keeps this recording. This recording is not worth to the Telarc Label !

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Review by Dinko October 7, 2003 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
When reviewing the CD version, said: "First, something seems to have gone very wrong with the sound. (...) [This disc] even when played at a high volume, sounds as if a blanket had been draped over the microphones. The muffled high frequencies and tubby bass drain much of the impact from the great crescendo that opens the first movement."

That pretty much sums it up.
Even if Runnicles and the Atlanta forces had delivered a first rate performance the muffled sound's consistent annoyance would prevent any enjoyment of this album, not just of the opening crescendo of the first movement. The sonic frosty glaze continues from beginning to end.

Nevermind that the Telarc album is a brand new DSD recording, A-B comparison between this SACD and a regular CD recording (Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Royal Concertgebouw on EMI for example) reveals how a well-engineered regular CD can easily sound better than a poorly engineered SACD. The Sawallisch CD has good orchestral detail and balance with decent dynamic range. The Runnicles has decent dynamic range and muddy orchestral textures with somewhat weird orchestral balances.

Donald Runnicles' approach is not robust enough for me. It's too cute and sing-songy. I guess the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus try to do their best, as do the soloists, but it's hard to be sure with such muddy sonics. Still, there are many other preferable versions on CD with better orchestras, and much better sound, at a lower price too.

I could not hear any significant improvement jumping from the CD layer to the SACD stereo to the SACD multichannel. They all sound equally muddy.

And I was hoping to get a decent-sounding Beethoven 9th to replace the Karajan on DG. Maybe next time. :rolleyes:

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Works: 1  

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"