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Beethoven Symphonies - Page 3

post #31 of 944
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Ordered another Beethoven complete set:
Bernstein/DG/VPO (remastered set 5/2004 release)

I have some of the Bernstein/Sony/NYPO set and like them very much except for a couple odd tempos like his NY 5th. I really like guys like Bernstein that let it all go and wear thier emotions on thier sleeves even if a failure vs the more common controlled mannered predictable performances. BTW what in the hell is with that "shirt" Lenny is wearing on cover photo, he he. (hopefully that is yellow towel on his shoulder)

Several places now have this at much reduced price......which gives me the green light
Yes I think that's a towel, it has to be. Let us know how you like the set.

Looks like he needs a shave too.
post #32 of 944
Picked up the Abbado set and the Bruggen set. Wow, the Bruggen is really bad, fits in perfectly with the "toot and scratch" label that got bestowed on period performances. Nowhere near as good as the Gardiner set. The Abbado set I liked quite a bit. Goes a fair way to period practice, with modern instruments, and I like it a lot as a great sounding, fleet-footed set. I was hoping the 3rd would come off a bit better, it's a little weak compared to my favorites, but the other symphonies (particularly the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th) come off swimmingly. One thing I noticed is that the recorded level is a bit low, so you have to turn it up a bit in order to get the full impact of the music. Overall I'd say this set is tied with Karajan for 3rd for me, Szell in 2nd, Gardiner in 1st.
post #33 of 944
Speaking of Szell/Sony set, have you seen latest marketing gimmick. They are releasing set again with new packaging called "original jackets" as 10 CD set! (vs normal 5 CD) I suspect that each symphony has own CD with original artwork from vinyl album........makes set very expensive and starts to defeat the simplicity/ease of use of CD format.


Too bad the Abbado/DG set is so expensive, but well worth it for me.
post #34 of 944
Anyone else like the Norrington recordings? #5 in particular?
post #35 of 944
Originally Posted by Hell_Gopher
Anyone else like the Norrington recordings? #5 in particular?
Yes I mentioned in previous post here I own the Norrington/Virgin set form the 1980s, sold at very reasonable budget price level. One of the first period instrument versions and has the most unique timings, phrasing and sound of any set. Very controversial when first released because of marked departure from traditional sound.

There is a new Norrington/Hannsler set out now:

post #36 of 944
The only Norrington Beethoven performance I ever liked was 1-2 from the original set. The rest of the set stuck me as demonstrating Norrington's weaknesses as a conductor - although not as much as the Symphonie Fantastique from that period. I last heard the Beethoven 9 from that cycle about a year ago and was very unimpressed.

My favorite Beethoven 5th is one of the poorer sounding recordings (at least through good loudspeakers) Reiner/CSO (on BMG). Fire-breathing performance, however.

I agree with Dark Angel about the strenghts of the Harnoncourt, but I don't remember the balances being that odd - but it's been a while since I heard it. I believe that they were all done live, so the balances might be different from a studio set.

My recommendation for a Beethoven set is typically Eugen Jochum's Philips cycle, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Philips last had it available as a couple of DUOs, I believe. The performances are very strong across the board, but the sound tends to variable - quite good in some symphonies, over-miked in others (like the 9th). The 9th is one of the best interpretive performances that I've ever heard, especially from the Adagio on.

I like the Wand cycle quite a lot. It also strikes me as a very safe recommendation.

Beyond that, complete Beethoven cycles have always struck me as a mixed bag - with a couple of performances in each set being worth the price of ownership (especially if you bought it used).
post #37 of 944
Originally Posted by hciman77
Beethoven Third Symphony - Otto Klemperer (Philharmonia)(1961)
As it turns out, this recording was my actual introduction to classical music. The slowest Eroica on LP, or close to it. A performance chiseled out of granite.

In general, I think the faster Eroicas are more overtly exciting, but don't plumb the depths of the Funeral March in quite the way as Klemperer (or Kempe, in his Munich cycle) do.
post #38 of 944
Had a chance to listen to this set recorded in late 1970's with VPO, this is very good overall and corrects some odd tempos from earlier Bernstein/Sony most noteably symphony 5. Recorded before period instrument movement started, these are very good representation of the accepted style of the time, and many will like the refinement that the VPO brings to the table......but competition is too great to give this strong must have recommendation

I will even say that overall I prefer his more urgent Bernstein/Sony/NYPO set for Beethoven, and live with the couple symphonies that don't work. Also for the same late 1970's period I prefer:
Karajan/DG (1977-78)

I was listening to Karajan sets again and really there is no doubt that I prefer his late 1970's version to the critics favorite early 1960's set, suprisingly the late 1970's set is more forceful and passionate with sharper contrasts.
post #39 of 944
Thread Starter 
I'm getting the Karajan 63 set from the library, look forward to hearing it.

post #40 of 944
Anyone else had any good beethoven symhony experiences lately? I got the Barenboim set and I'm of mixed mind about it. Its pretty slow, and horn/brass dominated. Beethoven played by way of Wagner. Perhaps the perfect, exact antithesis of period performance. Interesting to say the least.
post #41 of 944
I personally prefer the harnoncourt/orchestra of europe cd set (if there's an unprotected sacd or dvda, please do tell). it's the best rendition of beethoven i've ever heard. like, i had a mini beethoven marathon for a couple months... ok, maybe that's not mini, but yeah. good stuff.
post #42 of 944
I have some of the Hogwood, and while I'd recommend the 1st and 2nd symphonies, I don't like his Pastoral at all. I find the tempo way too rushed and the music just never gets a chance to fully develop. Because I hated the Pastoral, I never bothered to get the later ones. I also have the von Karajan cycle that was released as a boxed set from DG very recently. I had bought some years ago on vinyl in bits and pieces to fill in my dad's recordings. The recordings for the cd set date from 1961 and '62. I like all of them, but I like the 3rd and 5th the best of the cycle. Everything else is single recordings, from Bernstein's Last Concert (7th) to some of the Carlos Kleiber recordings for DG (yes I have the 5th and 7th and it is excellent). I have yet to find any one cycle that statisfies me completely, but there are usually a couple of recordings inside each set to justify the purchase of the whole (and they look so pretty on the shelf). I also have one or the Bernstein 9ths, but I don't remember which one it is and it will be hard to look it up as my daughter took it back to school with her.
post #43 of 944
Big surprise, I keep coming back to Szell as my man for Beethoven. I have listened to all the symphonies in the past month and think they are right on. In the 9th, the baritone soloist has a vibrato that sounds like a car starting up on a low battery, but other than that these performances are tight, tempi good, and all around great performances.

post #44 of 944
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.

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.

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.

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.

Norrington/Virgin Classics

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

I second most of these recomendations. I disagree with the Harnoncourt though. I find this set highly over rated. As well my pic for a set is Karajan's 63 with number 9 from the 77.
post #45 of 944
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
I have some of the Hogwood, and while I'd recommend the 1st and 2nd symphonies, edit.
i agree. i especially like the fortepiano continuo he includes. plus the aam's rhythms are fast and well sprung, and the raw performances gives them a little attitude. the hogwood "eroica" is also worth checking out.
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