Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral"
Fantasia in C Minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy"
The combination of Beethoven’s fiery Ninth and the sheer size of today’s symphony orchestras can run the risk of serious overheating. Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, however, achieves lithe, sinewy textures from the nimble Freiburger Barockorchester, returning this music to its rightful place at the dawn of the Romantic era—intertwining orchestral lines regain their transparency without compromising overall impact. There’s an addictive forward drive to the opening movement, while Casado keeps the neurosis of the second on a short leash, and the monumental finale, “Ode to Joy,” combines equal amounts of elegance and triumph. The Choral Fantasy, an eccentric forerunner to Symphony No. 9, is blessed with Kristian Bezuidenhout’s filigree pianism, the perfect companion to Casado’s responsive choral and orchestral forces.