C1691. PAUL PARAY Cond. Orchestre National de la RTF, w.Maria Posa, Arlette Chédel, Georg Jelden & Jacques Mars: 'Choral'
Symphony #9 in d (Beethoven). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-591, Live Performance, 8 Nov., 1966, Theatre des Champs-Elysées. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Paul Paray is of course well known for his fine Mercury recordings with the Detroit Symphony from his 1952–63 tenure with that ensemble. While those were predominantly of French music, he also recorded works by Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann (one of the earliest complete symphony cycles), and even Wagner in the German repertoire, plus compositions of Dvorák, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, and Suppé, among others. This interpretation of the Beethoven Ninth is very much on the Toscanini end of the interpretive spectrum, featuring mostly fast tempos (the scherzo is taken at a moderate pace, but has a short timing due to omission of the repeats), crisp rhythms, sharply marked accents, clear articulation of various lines, and careful balancing of sections. The dramatic effects are purely musical, not metaphysical as with Furtwängler, Mengelberg, and other representatives of the Romantic tradition. Although I am strongly partial to the latter approach in this work, it is a testament to Paray’s skills that I find much of what he does quite convincing; and if in contrast to me you favor such a Classical approach, you should embrace this with enthusiasm.
The opening movement drives purposefully forward; in the scherzo, woodwinds chatter happily; the slow movement glides gracefully by on gossamer wings. The orchestra has the distinctive lean timbre and tang of French ensembles before the current ongoing international homogenization of orchestral sound; the chorus does well enough by itself (though diction is a bit indistinct), and the monaural sound quality is quite good. The one relative shortcoming is the solo quartet in the finale; all four singers are passable, but none is distinguished. In sum, fans of Paray should find this disc a satisfying addition to their collections; recommended accordingly.”
- James A. Altena