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What Beethoven heard

Is there a true sound of Beethoven?

By Ivan Hewett   January 2002

Could there be anything new to say about Beethoven’s nine symphonies, the most performed and analysed works in orchestral literature? Two recent recordings, by the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic, suggest there can be. They are based on a new edition of the symphonies by Jonathan Del Mar, which purports to take us closer to Beethoven’s true intentions than any previous edition. It has been a labour of love for Del Mar, who spent ten years researching the different versions of each symphony (there are 20 for the ninth alone). The changes from the familiar 19th-century Breitkopf and…

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