Solti, Chicago and Beethoven’s Choral Symphony on Classical 101

This evening on Symphony @ 7, we continue our week long 100th birth anniversary celebration of Sir Georg Solti with his Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor.

As noted before, Georg Solti was one of the first conductors to be widely known and achieve international recognition from his recordings rather than his appearances in concert halls.  Decca Records certainly did much to help him by achieving a such bright clear sound, even before the digital era.  Solti recorded the Beethoven symphonies twice with the Chicago Symphony, first in the early 1970s in analog sound and then again in the mid 1980s in digital.  Both versions still sound pretty good.

These are big-boned, powerful performances at the other end of the interpretive spectrum from the period instrument movement versions that started to appear in the 1980s with their leaner textures and smaller ensembles.  While there is much to be said for the historically-informed approach to shed new light on what Beethoven’s music may have sounded like in his own day, Solti’s view with the traditional “big-band” approach still packs a wallop and is exciting to listen to.

On Symphony @ 7, we’re going to hear the 1986 digital recording of the Ninth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony, but here is the opening from his 1972 recording with Solti talking about his approach to Beethoven and this symphony.

I also found this 1986 performance at the BBC Proms in London with the London Philharmonic, another orchestra with which Solti made some fine recordings.  Here, he demonstrates why he was such a compelling artist to watch in concert, as well as listening to his many outstanding recordings.

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