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Best classical recordings...ever!

post #1 of 2468
Thread Starter 

I am a fan of some select classical music. I absolutely adore Beethoven. He is the sole reason that I am learning piano and his piano sonata's are the most delightful I have ever heard.

 

Now I know there is alot of different interpretations of the old music before it was able to be recorded on anything other than sheet music. I know alot of these long past composers would roll in their graves if they heard some of the countless interpretations of their masterpieces. In this thread, I want to examine the modern recordings of such works. For a newcomer in classical music, i find it is overwhelming to decide which cd's to buy. For example, there are dozens, if not hundreds of different orchestral recordings of Beethoven etc, but how do I know which to buy without emptying my wallet on all of them. I know Amazon.com has reviews, but alot of people are not interested in the integrity of the recording as much as the interpretation. Leads me to these two questions.

 

1. What are some outstanding recordings that you have heard from the greats from yesterday as well as modern times?

 

2. Is there any interpretations of the greats that you prefer, that excel in your opinion?

 

 

I own Richard Goode's recordings of all Beethoven's Piano Sonata's. I love it, however, with all the nuiances in the music, the volume has to be listened to very loudly, bringing to the forefront alot of noise from the recording.

 

I also own Roger Norrington's recordings of all of Beethoven's Symphonies. I know he apparantly does an awful job on all of the odd symphonies in his interpretation, but the sound quality is ok. Still leaves alot to be desired.

post #2 of 2468
There really is no perfect interpretation. Modern recordings tend to have more conservative interpretations than older ones though. For the Beethoven symphonies Karajan's 1963 cycle is probably the best starting point and would be a good alternative to your Norrington set. Lately, I've been listening to Kletzky with the Czech PO, and it's my favorite... A spectacular orchestra with vivid and dynamic conducting. Bohm with the Vienna Philharmonic has a lyrical Vienese flavor that suits the 6th in particular. Kleiber's version of the 5th and 7th belong in every collection.

In general, classical music has always enjoyed state of the art sound, so don't be afraid of older recordings. The best recording I've ever heard was recorded in 1952. Also, the label is no indicator of quality. Every record label has good and bad recordings.

Since you're just starting, I have to recommend the best bargains for newbies to classical music. Go to Amazon and search for "Rise of the Masters" in the MP3 download section. All of those sets are first class performances in first class sound for pennies. Buy them all. Also, if you can afford it, both the Decca Sound and RCA Living Stereo box sets are tremendous bargains. Under two bucks a disk for the best recordings and sound in the entire history of recorded music.

If you have any more specific questions, I'm happy to point you in the right direction. I've got three decades of voracious classical music consumption under my belt.
post #3 of 2468
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your informative response. I cannot believe the value of the "Rise Of The Masters" downloads on Amazon. It is too bad that they are in MP3 and not FLAC.

 

I took your advice and did order Karajan's 1963 cycle. Also ordered the Living Stereo 60 Cd set.  I am excited for their arrival ! I paid for express shipping so I should have it in a couple days. Is there a CD you recommend I start with, or just disc 1 of 60?

 

I have always been fascinated with all facets of music, apart from country western and the demise recent pop music. I am excited to expand my repertoire of quality recordings, an attempt to refine my tastes along my journey to musical enlightenment.

 

Thanks again for the input Bigshot! I will let you know my feelings on your recommendations.

post #4 of 2468
The disks in the Living Stereo set that I especially treasure are ...

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe -Munch
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibiton - Reiner
Offenbach Gaetie Parisienne - Fiedler (Best sound ever!)
Leopold Stokowski: Rhapsodies

Don't pass up the Amazon sets because they're MP3s. They're very well encoded and sound as good as FLACs or CDs. If you don't believe me, buy the Grieg set and listen to the Peer Gynt Suites. They'll blow your socks off.

By the way, when you're ready to take it on, I could turn you on to fantastic country music too. It's second only to jazz for the wealth of diversity of styles. You just have to know what the good stuff is.
Edited by bigshot - 9/8/12 at 9:54pm
post #5 of 2468
Thread Starter 

Thanks Bigshot.

 

I don't honestly think there would be a time where I would be ready to dive into the country music scene, but who knows. Jazz on the other hand, that might be the start of a new thread similar to this one... down the road.

 

So Bigshot, what do you think of Roger Norrington's take on Beethoven's symphonies as a collective?

post #6 of 2468
I'm old school. I like the big NOT historically informed sound of modern instruments, especially for Romantic music. I like conductors who have tons of charisma and leave their own mark on the interpretation through rubato, phrasing, orchestral color and balance, and adjustments to tempo. A lot of people prefer the "correctness" of HIP, but I think it is better suited for music of the classical era than the romantic era. Beethoven needs to be monumental and passionate for me. That's Karajan and Bohm.
post #7 of 2468

Check the link in my sig.

post #8 of 2468
Thread Starter 
Well done Tyson, thanks for sharing. That list is informative!
post #9 of 2468
Thread Starter 

Well...my package has arrived! Haven't had much time to listen yet, but I did excitedly take a listen to Herbert Von Karajan : Beethoven Symphonies. 

 

I have only had a chance to listen to Symphonies 1 and 2 complete. For such an old recording, it sounds great! Bigshot, kudos on that advice. Having only ever really heard the Norrington set I must say, I was taken back by the tempo differences between the two. I much prefer the Karajan. 

 

Symphony #2, second movement. The first minute... I was entranced. I have always loved the way that movement begins. I particularly enjoy the way he builds these intricate layers of strings. I adore these slower movements. Sorry, my classical glossary/vocabulary is weak and undeveloped... bear with me in my explanations, etc.

 

 

Anyways, thanks again Bigshot. I am going to give Symphony #3 my un-divided attention next. Then maybe I will dive into the giant Living Stereo collection this weekend. 

post #10 of 2468
Karajan's Sym No 3 is fantastic. Wait till you hear the Living Stereo box! When you listen to Fiedler's Gaetie Parisienne, keep in mind that is was recorded in 1952- one of the first stereo recordings, it's the best sound I've ever heard.
post #11 of 2468
Thread Starter 

Bigshot, once again... right on the money!

 

Fiedler's Gaetie Parisienne ; incredible, yes... incredible sound! I cannot wait for my new phones for this. 

 

As far as Karajan's Beethoven #3, that is next on the playlist. I never got around to having a dedicated, uninterrupted span of time for a listenm last night. Tonight my wife is gone for a few hours so I will be able to give it my full attention.

post #12 of 2468
I think that Fiedler recording was the second high fidelity stereo recording made. Amazing how well they had it figured out from the very beginning.
post #13 of 2468

If you love Beethoven, just wait till you start to get into Mahler :O

post #14 of 2468
Thread Starter 
Tyson, I am going to order the Mahler Symphonies tonight. Thanks
post #15 of 2468
Mahler seems to be very popular on the internet, but he isn't my favorite. It may be the excessive contrasts that some conductors put into his symphonies. I like lyrical Mahler much better than hyper sturm und drang. The same goes for Bruckner.
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