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Beethoven Symphonies

post #1 of 944
Thread Starter 
Wondering what everyone's picks are for Beethoven Symphonies (both seperate and in sets). I currently own the János Ferencsik set and were just looking around at other options in this area. I just noted DG has a set of Hybrid SACDs of Karajan.

Scott
post #2 of 944
Karajan recorded the beethoven cycle 4 times, the early one from the 60's is the only one worth getting. Man, he had some fire in his belly back then! The later ones get softer and more mannered and string dominated, just avoid them.

My personal favorite is the Gardiner set. Definitely has the brio and incisiveness that most original instrument sets do, but Gardiners orchestra has far better tone coloring capabilities than most HIP bands. Outstanding recording.

My next set recommendation would be tied between 3 conductors, Szell, Wand, and Walter. Walter is the most different from Karajan and Gardiner, so he makes a good alternative view. Very beatiful and legato sound, almost everything is nicely played. Szell is more in the Gardiner mode, fairly intense and hard driven, but with a modern orchestra but not the greatest sound (but still pretty good). Wand is somewhere between Karajan and Walter, and has the best recording quality of everyone except Gardiner. At first I didn't think that highly of Wand, feeling it was fairly "middle of the road", and that he didn't "do" much with the music, eventually I found I liked his performances quite a bit, for the very reason he lets the music speak for itself. Other conductors have tried this approach too, but IMO they do not speak beethoven's language as well as Wand does.

As for single rec's, I'll limit myself to one, but it's an essential item - Carlos Kleiber doing the 5th & 7th symphonies. Abso-friggin-lutely amazing. If you don't already have it, run (don't walk) to the store and pick it up. I swear they play the opening of the 5th with such intensity you think their instruments are gonna burst into flame at any moment. Great stuff.
post #3 of 944
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the recommends, the SACD set I was mentioning looks like the 60's version you mentioned. It's here.

In fact the Kleiber is also available in SACD.

Scott
post #4 of 944
Just pretty recently I listened to some in-depth comparison of different interpretations of the 7th and the Harnoncourt version was very impressive indeed.
post #5 of 944
Beethoven Third Symphony - Otto Klemperer (Philharmonia)(1961)
post #6 of 944
http://turing.cs.camosun.bc.ca:8080/Beethoven for reviews from someone who has heard many, many reordings of Beethoven's symphonies.
post #7 of 944
furtwangler for the 9th and bohm for the 6th.
post #8 of 944
#3 Karl Bohm
#5 Carlos Kleiber
post #9 of 944
#6 conducted by Bruno Walter is the best conducting I have ever heard

Reissued recently by Sony as SACD-only disc
post #10 of 944
I thought we had a Beethoven thread not too long ago, but search didn't turn up what I was looking for.

Karajan/DG 1962
is great choice for budget price, very solid with good sound. I also have the Karajan/DG 1977 which has a different style usually faster in tempo and timings, 9th symphony has spectacular climax and sound is probably just a little better than 1962........but cost is higher. Avoid early Karajan/EMI which is mono and newest Karajan/DG digital set which has weakest sound and performance.

Zinman/Arte Nova
Modern instruments played in the period style gives you clarified textures and faster tempos, overall very solid especially for the budget price.

Harnoncourt/Teledec
Good performance, sound quality issues however.....if you do not have balance control avoid this, sounds like 90% of music coming from one speaker.

Bohm/DG Doubles
Similar to Karajan but I may actually like this even better overall. You can get all symphonies by getting budget priced DG doubles, this really surprised me how good it is both sound and performance, doesn't get much mention by reviewers but it is one of the best sets out there!
DG Double
DG Double
DG Double

Wand/RCA (remaster)
New remaster makes this set even more desireable, modern instrument version that does everthing right, will appeal to those who like classic Karajan style, mid price.
Wand

Mackerras/EMI Classics for Pleasure
Hard to find but worth the effort. Very good modern instrument performance, newer recording has very good sound also. Budget price level.
Mackerras

Gardiner/Archiv
Norrington/Virgin Classics
Hogwood/Lyre

Here are the main contenders for period instrument performances.
Hogwood was first and the Lyre recording has great clarity and presence, solid set at budget price. (Also did great set of 5 piano concertos with Lubin impossible to find now).
Norrington really shook things up with strange timings and unusual sounds, worth having just for radical new approach. Sound is very good and worth getting to have you rethink these works.
Gardiner is probably safest choice of the three, also most expensive. Preformances are clarified and and fleet, sound quality is very good if just a touch bright. Preformance overall probably best of the three period sets.

Abbado/DG 2000
This is my favorite overall set but also full price. Like Zinman Abbado uses modern instruments done in period style, tempos are much faster than his earlier DG set with clarified textures. Sound is also probably best of any set I have and digipaks are very cool.




Misc CDs
Bernstein/Sony - Various (high energy, remastered sound is hot, 1960's NYPO recordings)
Walter/Sony - 6th & Various (very broad tempos)
Kleiber/DG Originals - 5 & 7 symphonies (essential)
Klemperer/EMI - 3rd symphony
Szell/Sony - Various
post #11 of 944
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
I thought we had a Beethoven thread not too long ago, but search didn't turn up what I was looking for.
<snip>
DarkAngel,

Was this the thread you were looking for?

http://www5.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=7979

Based on that thread, I purchased the Zinman boxed set and was not dissapointed. A lot of energy, and great sound. Although, and I may have to listen more closely to make sure I'm not being mistaken, I think I've heard a "squeaky" violin e-string on occassion
post #12 of 944
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryS
DarkAngel,

Was this the thread you were looking for?

http://www5.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=7979

Based on that thread, I purchased the Zinman boxed set and was not dissapointed. A lot of energy, and great sound. Although, and I may have to listen more closely to make sure I'm not being mistaken, I think I've heard a "squeaky" violin e-string on occassion
Oh yes.......I forgot about this thread also

The one I was thinking of was a discussion of beethoven 3rd where we started discussing various beethoven symphony sets in general.
post #13 of 944
post #14 of 944
I'll second the Carlos Kleiber 5th and 7th--the opening of the 5th is intense.
post #15 of 944
dark angle,
i already have the '63 karajan set, and also the bohm set on vinyl (which i wore out listening to as a kid). thanks for pointing out the two-fers (could the cover art be more ugly?) one review complained of the brightness of some of the cd's. did you find this to be the case?
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