Penguin Guide Rosette Winners

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

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Beethoven - Symphony No. 4

Beethoven - Symphony No. 4


Beethoven:

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60

Strauss, R:

Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

Leon Spierer (solo violin)


The concert which Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic gave in London’s Royal Festival Hall on the evening of Saturday 27 April 1985 was their first in England for four years. In May 1981 they had played Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony in the Royal Festival Hall and given an unforgettable concert of music by Bach, Mozart and Richard Strauss in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre. London had not been included in the orchestra’s itinerary in its centenary year in 1982 and for much of 1983-84 Karajan and the orchestra had barely been on speaking terms. Since the centenary year had been something of a high water mark in this hitherto sensationally successful 27-year partnership, the breakdown in relations came as something of a shock to the musical world. There were times in 1984 when it looked as if the two parties would go their separate ways; finally, a reconciliation was effected in the late summer of that year ahead of a scheduled tour of Japan and South Korea. The Krach was ostensibly over the appointment of a new clarinettist but there were other factors too, not least Karajan’s advancing years and stirrings among a contingent of mainly younger players keen to assert their independence and exploit the financial strength which the orchestra’s sky-high reputation now conferred on them. Throughout his life, Karajan had been noted for his extraordinary mental and physical prowess. Now in his mid-70s, he was troubled by a painful and ultimately irreversible spinal condition that had nearly cost him his life in the winter of 1975-76. He had soldiered on but even his energies were finite. In April 1985, he had invited Klaus Tennstedt to share the conducting burden at the Salzburg Easter Festival. ‘It was good to have Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, happily reunited after a prolonged disagreement, pay their first visit to the Festival Hall – an event said to have caused prices of black market tickets to reach astronomical heights,’ wrote Peter Stadlen in the Daily Telegraph. The audience was clearly shocked to see how frail Karajan had become as he edged towards the rostrum. (He himself likened his experience of walking unaided in his later years to stepping on sheet ice.) The Times reported a slight stumble in the advance, at which point ‘the applause hiccupped in a breathless unison’. Yet once settled on the podium, Karajan was, as ever, fully in control, master of all he surveyed. Extract from the booklet note © Richard Osborne, 2008

“For anyone lucky enough to have secured a ticket few orchestral concerts have remained so vividly in the memory as the one given by Karajan's incomparable Berlin Philharmonic in London's Royal Festival Hall on April 27, 1985.
The surprises began with the conductor's own physical frailty. Edging unsteadily towards the rostrum and propping himself up against the railing, he adopted the peculiar posture that enabled him to remain upright and in command notwithstanding a debilitating spinal condition.
In truth the Beethoven was and is a gift to his many detractors. With the maestro unwilling or unable to lift his arms, the band turns in its patented imitation of a gramophone record. Surfaces are immaculate but it's like being trapped in a pudding without air in the texture. Phrases, even whole sections glide by with no intake of breath and the first two movements in particular may induce feelings of claustrophobia in younger listeners. They should persevere.
No superlatives can convey the inevitability, conviction and sweep of Karajan's Heldenleben which makes even this notoriously shrill-sounding venue resound in glory. The original BBC sound team of producer Misha Donat and balance engineer John McCulloch capture a paradoxical sonority, rich yet transparent, 'lambent in its beauty, never cloying or opaque' as described by Richard Osborne in his characteristically generous booklet-notes. The battle scene may be slow but was it ever more incisively chronicled? The Strauss at least is indispensable.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Karajan's Beethoven Fourth was recorded when the Berlin Philharmonic came to London in 1985. Its excellent speaks for itself and the coupling is equally memorable.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Testament - SBT1430

(CD)

$17.00

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Herbert von Karajan - 100th Anniversary Collection

Herbert von Karajan - 100th Anniversary Collection


Beethoven:

Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Egmont Overture, Op. 84

Coriolan Overture, Op. 62


Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano), Marga Höffgen (contralto), Ernst Haefliger (tenor) & Otto Edelmann (baritone)

Philharmonia Orchestra & Chor der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Herbert von Karajan

Herbert von Karajan’s first cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies with the Philharmonia Orchestra on EMI has always been something of an ugly duckling when compared to the various Berlin Philharmonic incarnations on Deutsche Grammophon. Now reissued in a bargain 5 CD box, this is part of the truckload of Karajan 100th anniversary releases, which will no doubt raise controversy in some quarters and be welcomed in others. For me, if it’s nicely produced and cheaper than a box of quasi half-decent cigars then ‘bring it on’ as they say, and this box is certainly no slouch when it comes to presentation.

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

EMI - The Karajan Collection - 5158632

(CD - 5 discs)

$28.00

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Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture & Capriccio Italian

Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture & Capriccio Italian


Beethoven:

Wellington's Victory, Op. 91 (Battle Symphony)

London Symphony Orchestra

Tchaikovsky:

1812 Overture, Op. 49

Capriccio italien, Op. 45


spoken commentary by Deems Taylor

Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra & University of Minnesota Brass Band, Antal Dorati

Cannon and musket fire directed by Gerard C. Stowe

Recorded - 1955-60

“it sounds even more spectacular than it did in its vinyl format, vividly catching Beethoven's musical picture of armies clashing.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Originals - up to 40% off

Decca - Originals - 4758508

(CD)

Normally: $12.25

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Herbert Von Karajan in Rehearsal and Performance

Herbert Von Karajan in Rehearsal and Performance

Recorded in Vienna, November 1965 and in Berlin, January 1966


Beethoven:

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

Schumann:

Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120


Subtitles: German, English, French

Penguin Guide

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DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EuroArts - 2072118

(DVD Video)

$36.00

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (complete)

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (complete)


Penguin Guide

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Presto CD

DG Rosette Collection - 4765299

(Presto CD - 3 discs)

$31.25

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Live Recording 3 May 1982


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Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Historical Recordings - up to 25% off

Orfeo - Orfeo d'Or - Bayerische Staatsoper live - C700051B

(SACD)

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5


Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 'Emperor'


“This Beethoven Fourth is one of the most perfect accounts (and perhaps the most perfect account) of the Concerto ever recorded. Poetry and virtuosity are held in perfect poise, with Ludwig and the Philharmonia providing near-ideal accompaniment. Gilels’s Emperor is also a masterful and compelling performance.” Gramophone Magazine

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Great Recordings of the Century - 30% off

EMI Great Recordings of the Century - 4768282

(CD)

Normally: $11.25

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 23 and 31

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 23 and 31


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 'Pathétique'

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 'Appassionata'

Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110


Emil Gilels (piano)

Penguin Guide

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Presto CD

DG Rosette Collection - 4762194

(Presto CD)

$14.00

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Sena Jurinac (Leonore), Jon Vickers (Florestan), Gottlob Frick (Rocco), Hans Hotter (Pizarro), Elsie Morison (Marzelline), John Dobson (Jaquino), Forbes Robinson (Fernando), Joseph Ward (First Prisoner), Victor Godfrey (Second Prisoner)

Covent Garden Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Otto Klemperer

Recorded 1961, mono

“Here is the first night of Otto Klemperer's legendary 1961 Fidelio, from the Royal Opera House, to challenge his noted studio set from a year later.This confirms the Achilles' heel of Walter Legge, EMI's leading mogul at the time, in his unwillingness to record live occasions, probably because he liked to have every aspect of a recording under his control. In this case there is more to it than that. Klemperer wanted, in the studio, to retain his Covent Garden cast; Legge preferred to make changes with two exceptions (Jon Vickers and Gottlob Frick). On the evidence of this magnificent issue, Klemperer was right. Not only are the singers, by and large, better equipped for their roles, but given the electricity of the occasion the conductor's interpretation is more vital (often faster tempi) and even more eloquent. For his own staging, Klemperer decided to include far more dialogue than is usually heard so that we have as much a play with music as an opera. The singers speak and act with such feeling and immediacy, most particularly Jurinac, Hotter and Frick, as to justify the added text. Add to that the dedication on all sides to Klemperer, and you can imagine why this was such a special occasion.
Compared to Christa Ludwig on Klemperer's studio version, Sena Jurinac creates a more believable and vulnerable Leonore. Her heartfelt sympathy with the role is evident in every line she speaks and sings, most notably in key phrases in her duet with Rocco near the end of Act 1 and the melodrama in Act 2. Once past some first night nerves evident in 'Abscheulicher!' she proves an ideal Leonore. Vickers, even in these early days of his career, is inclined to sentimentalise his Florestan with scoops and lachrymose effects, but all is forgiven when he provides the heroic thrust and inner feeling which the part demands and which is so notably absent from the Florestan on the recent Rattle version. Frick's Rocco is, if possible, even more admirable than on the studio set, expressing the jailor's terrible dilemma in the kind of incisive, warm tones few other basses on disc match.
It is incomprehensible that Legge preferred as Pizarro the too-comfortable sounding Walter Berry to Hans Hotter. Hotter, usually known for his noble roles, is here the epitome of evil, a threatening force of nature, his voice and diction full of menace so that he can be forgiven one or two wobbles in his aria. The young lovers are personably sung and enacted by Elsie Morison and John Dobson, and another Royal Opera stalwart, Forbes Robinson, is a dignified Don Fernando.
There was a fuss at the time about Klemperer's inclusion of Leonore III, but he fully justifies it by his electrifying interpretation. He insisted on placing the wind in the middle of the orchestra spectrum, and the balance is improved throughout as a result. His reading overall has the stature and sense of the work's philosophical basis which will be familiar to those who know his discs of the symphonies.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“the quality of the splendid (1962) Kingsway Hall recording is very apparent, with the voices beautifully caught in relation to the orchestra, all within a glowing ambience. The result is a triumph to match the unique incandescence and spiritual strength of the performance, superbly cast” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

Penguin Guide

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Testament - SBT21328

(CD - 2 discs)

$34.25

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-32 (Complete)

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-32 (Complete)

(Recorded 1951-56)


“Wilhelm Kempff was the most inspirational of Beethoven pianists. Those who have cherished his earlier stereo cycle for its magical spontaneity will find Kempff's qualities even more intensely conveyed in this mono set, recorded between 1951 and 1956. Amazingly the sound has more body and warmth than the stereo, with Kempff's unmatched transparency and clarity of articulation even more vividly caught, both in sparkling Allegros and in deeply dedicated slow movements. If in places he's even more personal, some might say wilful, regularly surprising you with a new revelation, the magnetism is even more intense, as in the great Adagio of the Hammerklavier or the final variations of Op-111, at once more rapt and more impulsive, flowing more freely. The bonus disc, entitled 'An All-Round Musician', celebrates Kempff's achievement in words and music, on the organ in Bach, on the piano in Brahms and Chopin as well as in a Bachian improvisation, all sounding exceptionally transparent and lyrical. Fascinatingly, his pre-war recordings of the Beethoven sonatas on 78s are represented too. Here we have his 1936 recording of the Pathétique, with the central Adagio markedly broader and more heavily pointed than in the mono LP version of 20 years later.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

DG Collectors Edition - 4479662

(CD - 8 discs)

$68.00

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