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Beethoven: The Symphonies Box set

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Product details

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (2 Jan. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B005D4Y522
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,387 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

This striking hardcover booklet with slipcase houses six CDs containing Beethoven’s entire symphonic work as well as a bonus DVD with the documentary Making van Beethoven. Dubbed “The Beethoven Cycle of the 21st Century”, this cycle was recorded live in concert in the Goldener Saal of the Vienna Musikverein between 2008 and 2010 by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Thielemann.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I received my set in mid December as I subscribe to the Wiener Philharmoniker, and I was delighted when this Limited Edition set arrived. The presentation is sumptuous, with a beautifully embossed box containing an album full of colour photographs and detailed essays. The most interesting of these is on the formation of the orchestra in 1842-prior to this, incredibly, there was no professional trained orchestra giving orchestral concerts in Vienna, and the main reason for the Court Opera Orchestra commencing in its concert identity as the Philharmonic was to hear Beethoven well played in the concert hall. The first work in their opening concert was the Seventh Symphony-and the link and tradition has remained unbroken since then.
Therefore, it can be said that there is a good deal of authenticity in big band Beethoven from Vienna!
What we have in this set is the "antidote" to the recent superb set from Chailly, and it is even further removed from the interesting and enjoyable set from van Immerseel using a "period" set-up.
Thielemann does not adhere slavishly (or indeed at all!) to the metronome markings, and takes a full blooded Romantic approach to these works using a large orchestra-though not the 100 strong band of a Strauss Tone Poem. The orchestra in the earlier symphonies is smaller, but increases in number-especially strings-as the cycle progresses, This Beethoven has more in common with Schumann than Mozart and Haydn. Throughout the set, Thielemann employs rubato, shaping of phrases and changes of tempo in each movement to match the drama-these symphonies do not run on "auto-pilot". Unlike Rattle in his disappointing set, Thielemann does not try to get the VPO to play differently from their natural style.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Midgley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 April 2012
Format: Audio CD
I'll come right out and say straight away that I'm no expert on the symphonies of the great man, because nowadays I spend far more of my musical hours listening to renaissance and baroque music than to this new-fangled 19th-century stuff. But, as a young chap a few years back, I was brought up on Beethoven, mainly through recordings from such as Furtwängler, Klemperer, Karajan, and later also Carlos Kleiber and Harnoncourt for some of the individual symphonies. So I can't lay claim to the kind of knowledge about the vast range of available recordings enjoyed by some other reviewers, and least of all to any ability to draw comparisons with other recent sets; I simply judge this recording on its merits as I hear them.

That said, I think Thielemann's set is absolutely terrific. I like the conductor's approach to Beethoven, he has plenty to say about the music, and his individual touches and eccentricities - portamenti, rallentandi, dynamic variations and the like - always feel as if they arise naturally from the music itself, rather than being imposed upon it. Gentle, subtle and lyrical where appropriate, he and his players are just as good at conveying the furious energy of the great revolutionary, and there's certainly no way you would get bored listening to this set. The Wiener Philharmoniker are a wonderful orchestra and the sound they make is quite splendid, as is the recording quality. The ambience of these live recordings adds feeling and atmosphere to the proceedings, with ambient noise noticeable before and between movements - musicians shifting and preparing, instruments being positioned, a few chairs creaking, the evident presence of an extremely well-behaved Vienna audience - but with no disturbance or noticeable disadvantages whatever.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 7 April 2012
Format: Audio CD
It is clear to me that anyone who accuses Thielemann of being a dull in this Beethoven cycle has either not listened to the Allegro con brio of the first movement of the Second Symphony, or not listened properly, or has no ears to hear. To get the proper measure of this set, start there. It is one of the most joyous, released and sheerly infectious accounts I have ever heard, full of drive, impish wit and manic ecstasy. The orchestra is obviously having a high old time. As the DVD amply illustrates, they love playing for Thielemann and are clearly of the opinion that anyone who wants etiolated string-tone, vibrato-free whining and clipped phrasing can go and stick his head in a bucket. The fiddles of the Vienna Philharmonic slither around like a greased porker at a hog roast before easing into the ensuing Larghetto with the utmost suavity. It is equally apparent that the paying public seated in the splendidly named Goldener Saal der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde knows what it wants to hear, too - and they got it in this series of the complete symphonies recorded in numerical sequence between December 2008 and April 2010.

I find it scandalously incomprehensible that the music critic of a major broadsheet should recently have complained that the clarity of these live recordings "only highlight[s] the swagger and occasional coarseness of the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic, confirming its status as the world's most overrated orchestra." He is clearly in thrall to an entirely different musical aesthetic from the conductor, the orchestra, the audience and all those who have greeted these performances so enthusiastically. We really are at a cultural crossroads if such a glorious interpretation may be derided with impunity by a major commentator.
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