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This is, very deliberately, a chamber orchestra performance from the hand-picked Mito ensemble, which means fine detailing but also means that those expecting a weighty Ninth will be disappointed. In concert, the first two movements were actually conducted by horn player and Ozawa conducting protégé Radek Braborak; Ozawa recorded them here under studio conditions.

It is traditional in Japan to perform the Ninth in the run-up to the New Year. While the first movement is well-shaped, it is not intensely dynamic and the Scherzo is lacklustre; the Adagio is tender, however, strings silky, wind gentle, and the Finale similarly boasts much beauty. Eiche is a superb baritone, and the chamber choir has great spirit. Ozawa has a long history with the piece, including a performance to open the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Far from eclipsing Ozawa’s previous Saito Kinen or New Philharmonia traversals, this remains very much an addendum.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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