Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 'Pastoral'

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)


Edith Wiens (soprano), Hildegard Hartwig (contralto), Keith Lewis (tenor) & Roland Hermann (baritone)

Hamburg State Opera Chorus, North German Radio Chorus & North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Günter Wand

RCA - 74321202772

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Beethoven - Complete Symphonies

Beethoven - Complete Symphonies


Beethoven:

Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)


“This set is remarkable and many will rate it as Mr Knightley rates Emma Woodhouse 'faultless in spite of her faults'. In his booklet essay, Peter Czorny tells us that the recordings are offered in the hope of transporting the listener back 'to that moment when this music burst forth into a world of heroes, wars and revolution, creating its own world of the sublime and ineffable'. This theme is developed by Gardiner in a robust 20-minute talk on the project that comes free on a sixth CD. Gardiner's opinion that Beethoven wanted his musicians to live dangerously has some peculiar consequences.
Symphony No 1: The opening is superbly judged. Gardiner doesn't overplay the Adagiomolto, and the Allegro con brio, often played with a fatal languor by members of the old German School, is pretty quick. After his absurdly brisk reading of the second movement, Gardiner goes on to conduct dazzlingly successful accounts of the Scherzo and finale. Symphony No 2: This is very fine throughout. By following the written tempo markings and his own musical instincts Gardiner produces a perfomance of the first movement that opens out the drama most compellingly.
Symphony No 3: More révolutionnaire than romantique. A very fast first movement gets within spitting distance of an impossible metronome mark. That and keen texturing make for tremendous dramatic urgency. Unfortunately, there's also too little accommodation en route of the rich cargo of ideas that Beethoven has shipped into this movement. In their haste to get to the recapitulation itself, Gardiner and his players are decidedly unpoised. He's superb in the last two movements; but these are considerably less than half the story where the Eroica is concerned. Symphony No 4: An unusually quick introductory and brisk Allegro vivace. Gardiner treats the pivotal drum entry before the recapitulation atmospherically. Glorious slow movement, impossibly quick finale.
Symphony No 5: Here is the stuff of which revolutions are made. Gardiner plays the piece pretty straight, and at white heat. The orchestra is superb, helped by the Francophone bias of its sound base. That said, the Scherzo (with repeat) is surely too fast. It starts briskly and not especially quietly. The pace drops back for the Trio, which is just as well since the strings are hardpressed to articulate clearly. The finale is also very fast, again ahead of what's generally regarded as a good metronome. There's a grandeur to the Scherzo-cum-finale that could be seen to reflect a vision that transcends the politics of revolution. Still, for its éclat terrible, this is unbeatable. The slow movement is also superbly shaped and directed.
Symphony No 6: Despite some lovely playing in the slow movement and an air of brisk efficiency, this is a rather joyless Pastoral. Nor is it a spiritually uplifting one. The Scherzo – 'A merry gathering of country folk' – is a very high-speed affair. At such a pace the various amusing false entries rather lose their point; to play in this village band you would need to be a virtuoso, and teetotal to boot.
Symphony No 7: A glorious performance. The introduction sets the scene with an ideal blend of weight and anticipation. The Vivace has a splendid dance feel and a power that's wholly unforced. Scherzo and finale are also superbly paced. The Allegretto is eloquent with a sense of barely sublimated grieving. The recording is magnificent. Symphony No 8: In general, the symphony thrives on the Gardiner approach, though in the finale the emphasis is again on high-speed locomotion.
Symphony No 9: The first movement has never been dispatched as rapidly as here. In fact, Gardiner doesn't get the bit between the teeth until bar 51, so the celebrated introduction has room to breathe. But he isn't entirely inflexible, and he and his players show remarkable skill in making busy detail tell. Yet a lot does go by the board. The slow movement is also played very quickly. However, the finale is superb. Tempos are unerringly chosen, the choral singing is beyond criticism, and there's a rare expressive quality to the singing of the solo quartet. High quality playing from the orchestra and often exceptional Archiv sound. At best, the physical and intellectual vitality of this music-making brings us close to the Ding an sich'. It's a best that occurs only intermittently. That it occurs at all is perhaps a sufficient miracle.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

DG Archiv - 4399002

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)


Lucia Popp (soprano), Carolyn Watkinson (contralto), Peter Schreier (tenor), Robert Holl (bass)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Chorus, Bernard Haitink

Philips - 4420732

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 'Eroica', etc.

Beethoven:

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 'Eroica'

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 'Pastoral'

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral'


Capriccio - C50000

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)


Ruth Ziesak (soprano), Birgit Remmert (contralto), Steve Davislim (tenor), Detlef Roth (bass)

Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, David Zinman

“Viewed overall, the performances of Nos 1, 4, 6 and 8 are the best in this set, though there's a certain levelling of dynamics in the Eighth. In the Seventh and the Fifth, the finales might have benefited from a wider curve of dynamics and a little more in the way of tonal weight. On the other hand, Zinman's fleet-footed Eroica grows on you, and the Fourth is among the most vivacious accounts available. As to the Ninth, the Scherzo's super-fast Trio makes particular sense at the very end of the movement where Trio and outer section engage in a brief comic tussle. The fast first movement is suitably dangerous and while the finale will no doubt court controversy (primarily for some unusual tempo relations), the Adagio sounds matter-of-fact, even a little impatient. Indeed, it's the one movement in this cycle that seems to misfire.
Zinman has used Bärenreiter's new edition of Beethoven's texts, although the extra appoggiaturas and ornaments, invariably sewn along the woodwind lines – were inserted by the conductor, based on sound musicological principles. All repeats are observed, and so are the majority of Beethoven's metronome markings. What matters most is the overall character of Zinman's Beethoven which is swift, lean, exhilarating and transparent. The Tonhalle copes bravely, often with exceptional skill, and the recordings easily compare with their best full-price rivals.
And the best bargain alternatives? Günter Wand's sense of structure (RCA) draws a sympathetic response, while Leinsdorf's solid, strong-arm Beethoven also has much to commend it (RCA). Karajan's 1962 cycle is surely the best of four (see above) and although Mackerras (Classics for Pleasure), like Zinman, sheds revealing beams of light here and there, this Zurich set has the greater impact. Those who favour the darker, weightier, more obviously 'heroic' Beethoven known (wrongly, perhaps) as 'old school' will probably not respond quite so readily, but they should still give Zinman a try.
On balance, his cycle remains the best bargain digital option. Besides, Arte Nova's asking price is so ludicrously cheap that it's worth buying on impulse, if only for the sake of a refreshing change. Just try to have someone else's Choral in reserve.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Building a Library

Budget Choice - February 2002

Building a Library

Recommended Budget Choice - July 2005

Arte Nova - 74321654102

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)


“solidly played and vigorous in execution. Tempos, while not breakneck, move smartly forward, with expressivity downplayed in favor of steady onward momentum. These are truly ''Classical'' performances; they make clear the connections between these early symphonies and the symphonic world from which Beethoven emerged.” New York Times, 1986

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Decca Collectors Edition - 4525512

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

on original instruments


Eiddwen Harrhy (soprano), Jean Bailey (contralto), Andrew Murgatroyd (tenor), Michael George (bass)

Hanover Band, Oslo Cathedral Choir, Roy Goodman, Monica Huggett

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Nimbus - NI5144

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1 - 9

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1 - 9


Beethoven:

Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Elisabeth Söderström (soprano), Regina Resnik (mezzo-soprano), Jon Vickers (tenor) & David Ward (bass)

London Bach Choir, London Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker

Fidelio Overture Op. 72c

London Symphony Orchestra

Egmont Overture, Op. 84

London Symphony Orchestra

König Stephan Overture, Op. 117

London Symphony Orchestra

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral'

Rehearsal

Wiener Philharmoniker

plus:

La Marseillaise (Rouget de Lisle)


Monteux’s Beethoven has been described as visionary. Respect for the spirit of the score, directness of expression, exceptionally well-drilled playing and a sense of untainted idealism that lay at the very heart of the composer’s vision – these are the qualities that typify Monteux’s interpretation of Beethoven. Eight of the symphonies were recorded for Decca; the Ninth for Westminster; and the third (Eroica) again, for Philips. Together with the rehearsal for the Ninth and an impromptu in-studio performance of La Marseillaise, they form the most complete collection of Monteux’s Beethoven recordings. Other conductors may have offered a more personalised take on the music, but none made it more universal or more human. The fascinating accompanying notes to the set are by Rob Cowan and the recordings have been remastered for this release.

“the sound is excellent […] the finale has beautifully light pointing and delicate playing from the Vienna Philharmonic” Gramophone Magazine, December 1970 (No. 6)

“the first movement has a genuine sense of flow […] The Decca transfer is smoother than the RCA original” Gramophone Magazine, July 1971 (No. 3)

“the development has genuine tension, accents are light and the strings have just the right weight of tone […] the playing of the Vienna strings is splendidly alert and sensitive” Gramophone Magazine, March 1972 (Nos. 1 & 8)

“straightforward and lively, very well played … the performance communicates a genuine sense of enjoyment” Gramophone Magazine, March 1973 (No. 4)

“A lively, slightly lightweight performance, reaching its zenith in the finale […] the recording is bright and quite full” Gramophone Magazine, March 1982 (No. 7)

“Monteux’s version of Beethoven’s Second Symphony is immensely likeable and I cannot think of another version more liveable with. It has freshness and buoyancy […] The sound too is admirable – clear and lively, yet truthful in perspective and with no lack of body.” Gramophone Magazine, March 1982 (No. 2)

“this is a performance I shall come back to often. It is definitely among the Ninths that count” MusicWeb International (No. 9)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4808895

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$29.00

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Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures

Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures

1951-1955 Official Remastered Edition


Beethoven:

Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Marga Höffgen, Ernst Haefliger, Otto Edelmann

Chor der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Wien

Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b

Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

Egmont Overture, Op. 84

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral'

Bonus CD. First release from unissued stereo tapes

Chor der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Wien


The Karajan Official Remastered Edition comprises 13 box sets containing official remasterings of the finest recordings the Austrian conductor made for EMI between 1946 and 1984, and which are now a jewel of the Warner Classics catalogue.

For many, Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) – hailed early in his career as ‘Das Wunder Karajan’ (The Karajan Miracle) and known in the early 1960s as ‘the music director of Europe’ – remains the ultimate embodiment of the maestro. The release of the Karajan Official Remastered Edition over the first half of 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the conductor’s death in July 1989 at the age of 81.

He was closely associated with EMI for the majority of his recording career (specifically from 1946 to 1960 and then again from 1969 to 1984). EMI’s legendary producer Walter Legge sought him out in Vienna just after World War II and the long relationship that ensued embraced recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonia (the orchestra founded by Legge), the Berlin Philharmonic (of which Karajan became ‘conductor for life’ in 1955), the forces of La Scala, Milan, and the Orchestre de Paris.

The Karajan Official Remastered Edition will feature primarily symphonic and choral music. The entire edition will comprise recordings remastered from the original sources in 24-bit/96kHz at Abbey Road Studios, the world’s most renowned recording studio.

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Warner Classics Karajan Official Remastered Edition - 2564633735

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Beethoven: The Symphonies

Beethoven: The Symphonies

and reflections


Beethoven:

Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Kancheli:

Dixi

Šerkšnytė:

Fires

Shchedrin:

Beethovens Heiligenstädter Testament

Staud:

Manai

Widmann, J:

Con brio


“This is an exceptional realisation of Beethoven's nine symphonies, one of those rare occasions when one is left with a feeling of having been in the presence of the thing itself. The key to the cycle's success is the quality of the musicianship...the dramatic and expressive elements are derived from within” Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

“Jansons adopts...an approach which takes into consideration the historically informed approach of the last 30 years, but is still aware of what performances were like in the great German tradition...If you want vigorous conducting, immaculate but lean playing, and unfailingly sprightly tempos in the Beethoven, this set is for you.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ***

“This set would be eminently recommendable if only for the nine Beethoven symphonies, performed with muscularity and flair.” New York Times, December 2013

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - December 2013

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BR Klassik - 900119

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