12. September 2019

The Wiener Symphoniker and Philippe Jordan complete their first Beethoven cycle on CD

It is done: With the release of the recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under Philippe Jordan, the Wiener Symphoniker's first cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies recorded on CD will finally be completed. 

This release will also mark the end of project Road to Beethoven with which the Wiener Symphoniker have been preparing for the anniversary year 2020 celebrating the composer’s 250th birthday. 

The Wiener Symphoniker made music history with the premiere of works by Bruckner, Ravel and Schoenberg. Under the direction of illustrious conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini or Georges Prêtre, the orchestra gained worldwide recognition for its Viennese sound. In light of its 120-year-old splendid history, it is all the more astonishing that the orchestra had never so far produced recordings of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, which are often described as the peak of the symphonic repertoire. This gap in the orchestra’s discography has now been closed: Since the autumn of 2017, all nine symphonies of the great Viennese by choice have been released on five CDs in half-yearly intervals, to critical acclaim. They were recorded live under the direction of Music Director Philippe Jordan in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein concert hall during an acclaimed cycle in the spring/summer of 2017.

There, Jordan’s approach to couple traditional Viennese sound culture with a contemporary, slimmer interpretation, original tempi and findings from historical performance practice were praised by critics, in particular. Content-related aspects were paramount for Jordan: Beethoven was not meant to be paid homage to as a monument but be shown as “more natural, direct and human”, according to the conductor’s wording.  

The timeless last completed symphony of Beethoven represents the logical culmination of this recording project. Judging by the size of the orchestra and the diversity of the instruments involved, the “Ninth” burst the dimensions of classical symphonies, opened up new compositional and musical spaces and set the standards for symphonic classical music that are valid to this day. 

Philippe Jordan and the Wiener Symphoniker were supported by a fantastic solo ensemble including Anja Kampe, Daniela Sindram, Burkhard Fritz, René Pape, and the Wiener Symphoniker under the direction of Johannes Prinz.  

The release of the CD will, of course, not be the end of the Orchestra’s focus on Ludwig van Beethoven’s oeuvre: Being the central orchestra for the celebrations of the City of Vienna on the occasion of Beethoven’s anniversary year in 2020, the Wiener Symphoniker under Philippe Jordan will again commit itself to his symphonies, including the reconstruction of the legendary “Academy” of 1808. 

The CD will be released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on 13th September 2019 and shortly afterwards in the rest of the world. The recording will then be available on iTunes and on Apple Music, Amazon and from well-assorted specialist retail shops.