Beethoven Ninth Symphony

Wanting recommendations for a top-notch recording which has all the passion and fire, and outstanding sonics. I can play CDs and SACDs, but not DVD-As.

Furtwangler's may be the best ever performances, but sonically they are very poor.... sigh.
If you want a ninth that is a spiritual experience,then Barenboim's live in Berlin recording with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is by far the best I have ever heard. Daniel has a masterpiece,pace,power,energy,and sound that is extraordinay,Bravo.

As a side picked it up at Borders earlier in the evening,50 off sale,for 8 bucks,what a deal.
I *strongly* recommend John Elliott Gardiner's Beethoven cycle. I have several (maybe 10?) recordings of the 9th, but the Gardiner is my favorite.

Tight, clean rhythms, outstanding soloists, interesting and contemporary interpretation, great mic placement, and great mixing. Musically and sonically outstanding ... hear it if you can.

CD format only, I believe.
Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic is my (rather unusual I think) recommendation. In fact his entire budget set by DG is worth having. And I'm not a Bernstein advocate! In general he picks up the pace a bit and his music is just plain joyous and exciting, not somber, overblown and, well sorta (for me) uninteresting. Greatly underrated I think. And the rest, i.e.

Reiner and the CSO

Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra on BIS BTW, although I'm not sure why, I really like the Vanska with the gain higher than normal, it brings the music to life.

Von Karajam's 1963 performance, at least performance wise. I've not heard it on CD so I don't lnow about sound quality

And last, but not least, Kubelik and the Baverian SO.

Think about the Bernstein! :-)
Furtwangler's final performance has been released on SACD. It was recorded in '54. The sound is decidedly mono, but warm and full; probably as good as it can get on SACD.

IMHO Karajan's with Baltsa from the '70's has the best, most intensely-beautiful slow mov't I've ever heard, but the sound gets downright ugly in the final mov't. (All things being equal, it's a hard mov't to record.) Fricsay's IMHO is the most "sensible" and that's no slight: it's a gorgeous and exciting reading in DG's early, sensible stereo sound.

One final word: There are probably 120 available Beethoven 9th's. I've not hear them all by a long shot. Right now I'm falling in love with Beethoven all over again listening to Scherchen's cycle on Westminster Lp's. Some of these are available on CD. He takes Beethoven's metronome markings at the Composer's word--they're very fast in the outer mov'ts, but oh so exhilarating. Some claim that his orchestras weren't up to the task, but I'll take these fascinating thrill-rides any day over the plush, careful performances we get today. Do give one a spin.