Beethoven Symphonies 7-9


Beethoven Symphonies 7-9 concert. Christian Thielemann conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker in Symphonies 7-9 for a total of 157 minutes of music. Soloists (9th Symphony) are Annette Dasch, Mihoko Fujimura, Piotr Beczala, and Georg Zeppenfeld. Michael Beyer was video director for Symphony 7 and 8, both recorded in 2009. Agnes Méth was video director for Symphony 9 recorded in 2010.

Also comes with three Discovering Beethoven documentary films, one for each symphony, with conversations between Thielemann and music critic Joachim Kaiser. The documentaries Symphony 7 and Symphony 8 were made by Christoph Engel. The documentary film Symphony 9 was made by Anca-Monica Pandelea & Christoph Engel. Each documentary lasts for almost an hour for a total of 169 minutes.

The total running time for the music and documentaries is 326 minutes on one disc. Released 2010, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio for the music. Documentaries are in high-definition video with PCM stereo sound. Grade: Blended grade for three symphonies: B-

This is the third title in the C Major three-title set with all nine Beethoven symphonies. For general information, see the mini-reviews for the Symphonies 1-3 concert and the Symphonies 4-6 concert.  PQ and SQ for the last three symphonies is good to excellent. Bad video content remains the problem.

The records of Symphonies 7 and 8 are similar because both were filmed by Michael Beyer in 2009. I ran the numbers on Symphony No. 8. This piece lasts only 28 minutes, but there are 307 clips for blistering pace of 5.4 seconds per clip. There were 6 near-whole orchestra shots,  25 decent part orchestra views, and a number of multi-section clips. This proves that Beyer could have made an HDVD out of this. But he didn't take advantage of the opportunity. Instead there's the usual DVDitis road race with 153 shots of solos or small groups of players clustered around 76 shots of Thielemann, plus 26 instrument-only shots and lots of unnecessary panning and zooming about. So I'm going to give a C+ to Beyer's work on Symphonies 7 and 8.

Finally, there I just watched again the Agnes Méth video of Symphony 9 recorded in 2010.  Georg Zeppenfeld has the thrill of being the first singer in history to open his mouth in a Symphony No. 9 recorded for HDVD. Although others have criticized him, to me Zeppenfeld is aurally and visually up to the task. It was also fun to see Piotr Beczala (the Duca di Mantova in our Arthaus Rigoletto HDVD) sing tenor solo.

Well, if there was ever a time to exploit the capability of HD cameras to give a broad view of a symphony, it would be the monumental Beethoven Symphony 9. The cozy (cramped most would say) stage at the Golden Hall was packed solid with the agumented orchestra, big chorus, and 4 famous soloists.  Méth does give us enough whole ensemble and near-whole ensemble to prove that she also have made a fantastic HDVD. But again, she chose, or was not allowed, to do so. The film she made had to work for the DVD market first, and we get the left-overs. In addition to a road race, we also get road rage, i.e., she all but flogs her cameramen to keep the lenses moving. Something has to be happening at all times! Of course, you really can't very well pan or zoom the lone Thielemann standing on the podium. And there was one wonderful, still, quiet, long, steady shot of the four soloists singing together near the end of the Ode to Joy---no possible way to break that up! I should give Méth an even worse grade than Beyer; but the music here is in a class alone, so I'll relent and call this a "B."