BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral."
Helen Donath, soprano. Teresa Berganza, alto. Wieslaw Ochman, tenor. Thomas Stewart, bass. Bavarian Radio Chorus and Orchestra / Rafael Kubelik, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186253 TT: 69:78

STRAVINSKY: Le sacre du printemps
NDR Elbphilharmonie / Krzysztof Urbaanski, cond.
ALPHA SACD 292 (two disks: SACD and Blu Ray) TT: 35:48

Here is the final installment of Pentatone's reissues of Rafael Kubelik's mid-70s recordings of Beethoven symphonies, each with a different orchestra. This site has praised the recent SACD of Symphonies 6, 7 and 8, respectively with the Orchestra of Paris, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra and (REVIEW). Now we have this superb performance of Symphony No. 9 recorded January 1975 in Munich's Herkulessaal, Residenz. Kubelik, highly respected throughout the musical world, was chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra 1961 - 1979. For this recording, DGG assembled a top-notch international quartet of soloists and the Bavarian Radio Chorus. It is a thrilling performance, and the multi-track recording is effective. It is not particularly directional from rear speakers, but the ambient sound is totally satisfying. Thank you, Pentatone, for issuing these important original four-track recordings, heard now for the first time in their multi-channel glory.

To celebrate the opening of the new Elbphilharmonie Hall in Hamburg February 17, 2017, there was a concert featuring the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra under the direction of young Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbansk (b. 1982). He is now principal guest conductor of the NDR Orchestra, which has a history of association with many leading conductors: Hams Schmidt-Isserstedt, Günter Wand, Christoph Eschenbach, and Christoph von Dohnányi. The featured work on the program was the Stravinsky ballet, a favorite of the conductor, and it is given a superb performance. The orchestra is in top form, and the audio is state-of-the-art although not particularly "surround." The odd thing here is why wasn't more music included? Surely there were other works on the program, and there is plenty of room for more. This is a deluxe presentation in a three-fold slipcase. The program is identical on both disks, one SACD audio, the other Blu Ray video. Michael Valentin was video director and always has the camera in the right place.

R.E.B. (February 2018)