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On all Millennium Top charts Beethoven's 9th Symphony invariably ranks very high. This is not surprising - we all know its finale theme, Ode to Joy, the hymn of the united Europe. CD Accord has made its contribution to the long list of recordings of this masterpiece. At the same time an edition of the complete Beethoven symphonies has been announced for this year played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra under Kazimierz Kord. The orchestra's recording of the 9th made six years ago is a great artistic accomplishment. Kord seems to be the very man for the task. He has often included Beethoven in his programs, which suggests that he does feel the power, drama and variability of Beethoven's music. He also likes to play grand oratorio-cantata works, so popular with listeners. And this is precisely what Ode to Joy is - a very extended cantata. In his performance of the 9th Symphony Kord has proved his mastery of conducting skills, his understanding of the work's style and his ability to shape this gigantic form, control its flow and bring its deepest meanings to the surface. His interpretation is poised and mature. The orchestra sounds perfect and part of the credit must go to the renowned chorus of the National Philharmonic led by Henryk Wojnarowski and to its four soloists considered as the best Polish performers of oratorio music. (MUZYKA PAP)