- Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
- Audio CD (8 Nov 1999)
- Number of Discs: 10
- Format: Box set, Limited Edition
- Label: Teldec
- ASIN: B000031VYM
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 716,976 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
After listening to these performances, one can understand why Beethoven was considered such a revolutionary. Go ahead and purchase these recordings. You will never hear a more gripping account of these works anywhere else. Bravo Harnoncourt! Bravo Chamber Orchestra of Europe! Bravo Beethoven!
Anyway, the music...I have reviewed the 9th symphony seperately and for me it represents the highlight of both the symphonic cycle as well as the set...just a flat-out great performance. Other standouts in the symphonies are the 8th (best version I have heard), 4th, 6th and 1st. The 6th is controversially slow, although the slower this symphony is the better I like it, and therefore it works for me. The 5th will not make you forget Kleiber (what would?), but it is strong version nonetheless. 3 and 7 will probably divide listeners...the heroic element is 3 is downplayed and the dance element in 7 is trimmed by lessening the rythmic drive...neither would be a first choice, but both are interesting alternative versions. Perhaps the greatest virtue of the set is the consistency of the interpretation and execution. There is no weak link here...no one or two symphonies that are obviously below par.
As to the rest of the set, well, things just get better. The violin concerto (with Gidon Kremer) is absolutely outstanding...it may be the best version in recent memory. Both Kremer and Harnoncourt catch fire early and sustain an almost wild abandon throughout. As for the Missa Solemnis and Creatures of Prometheus, both are excellent versions that can stand with any. To top everything off, all the major overtures and romances are represented with very nice performances.
For me, this set represents as good an integral set of Beethoven's symphonic output as one is likely to find. Harnoncourt is interesting, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe is outstanding, as are Kremer, the Chorus and the various vocalists. Teldec's recording is absolutely first rate. I still pull out the Kleiber, Klemperer and Furtwangler, but more and more I find myself reaching for the Harnoncourt above all others. And, the guy has a great smile!
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