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Beethoven: The Symphonies Box set


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Product details

  • Audio CD (2 Nov 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B0060I0IG2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,529 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
2. 2. Andante cantabile con moto
3. 3. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
4. 4. Finale (Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace)
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. 1. Allegro con brio
2. 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
3. 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
4. 4. Finale (Allegro molto)
See all 9 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Overture "Coriolan", Op.62
2. 1. Allegro con brio
3. 2. Andante con moto
4. 3. Allegro
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Overture "Egmont" Opus 84
2. 1. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
3. 2. Allegretto
4. 3. Presto - Assai meno presto
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 5
1. Overture
2. Overture
3. 1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
4. 2. Molto vivace
See all 6 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Standard Edition: Comes in a Capbox

This complete cycle of Beethoven’s nine Symphonies is a landmark event for Decca, for Maestro Chailly, and for the Gewandhausorchester, where he has been Kapellmeister since 2005. These acclaimed performances were recorded live in the Gewandhaus over three years, in preparation for the highly-anticipated complete cycles that Maestro Chailly of October and November 2011. The cycle showcases the finesse and musicality of the legendary Gewandhaus Orchestra--from the Haydnesque elegance of the first two symphonies, to the grandeur and drama of the choral Ninth Symphony. This five CD set of the nine Symphonies also includes selected Beethoven Overtures, and comes for an initial period in substantial and luxurious packaging, comprising a hard-back book with five internal CD wallets, all contained within an outer slipcase.

‘Chailly’s account of the First Symphony is a tour de force of wit and subversive joy, and the performance of the Second Symphony is almost as good. There is a fine account of the Fourth Symphony …  a distinguished account of the Seventh Symphony … electrifying account of the Eighth. The Ninth gets a predictably swift reading, compact and powerful, which, like everything else in this cycle, is of a piece with itself.

'The recordings, I should add, are superb. These are proper studio recordings, not concert paraphrases. There is space around the sound, as there needs to be in Beethoven, complemented by an immediacy and clarity of detail that derives in large measure from the playing itself.’ Disc of the Month, Gramophone.

This is above all, an explosively swift cycle. Chailly is utterly faithful to Beethoven's metronome markings. The result is a Beethoven cycle that's up there with the best modern-orchestra versions of recent times … and which also manages the seemingly impossible – making the music seem freshly minted without any concessions at all to period performance’  ***** The Guardian

‘From the outset it is clear that Chailly’s Beethoven will be an exhilarating adventure. The breathtaking finale of No 8 is the most exciting I have heard of disc. [The ninth] is a dramatic and visionary interpretation’ CD of the Week, The Times.

BBC Review

At the heart of any Beethoven symphony cycle is always going to be a tedious discussion of the ‘right’ way of doing things. Adhere too closely to authentic period performance and one risks ignoring the drama modern orchestras are capable of; but ignore those strictures and you’ll be lambasted for dousing the whole thing in garish romance. In short, it’s a brave conductor who attempts anything approaching a ‘definitive’ recording. Riccardo Chailly, star and commander of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig for some years now, can now rest easy – his readings fall somewhere between both camps. They are, commendably, focused entirely on the composer and not on debating how things ‘should’ sound.

Of course, distilling, linking and finding the energy for nine individual concept albums is a mammoth task and bound to end up with uneven results, but it is certainly interesting to see exactly which works have come out on top. Inevitably, the tent-poles of the third, fifth and ninth symphonies are direct, strong and unshakeable. The third (the Eroica), in particular, doesn’t linger on the more morose corners and paints the composer as the sub-titular hero more than anyone else. Similarly, the galloping excess of the ninth is reined in enough in the early stages to make the conclusion suitably grand.

It is in the lesser-known symphonies that the narratives become a little lost. This isn’t only a reflection of the performances, but also of the place the works have come to occupy in the composer’s canon. There are innumerable corners of melodic interest to explore in these works still, a delicate counterpoint or rhythmic tic that could have been drawn out a little more clearly (the finale of the Pastoral symphony is rather too clinical, for example), but these are given only cursory attention. Still, when attempting a monolithic set such as this, there are bound to be fallow patches.

Furthermore, interspersing the symphonies with various Beethoven overtures as palate-cleansers was perhaps a misstep. Even the most cursory listen to the gloriously dark opening of the Egmont overture is enough to suggest that these are worthy of a separate collection. These issues aside, what Chailly has produced might not be definitive, but it certainly is rich where it needs to be. The playing is responsive and immaculate throughout, forming the backbone of Chailly’s brilliantly authentic crib-sheet of a symphony cycle. Though the arguments will always rage as to exactly how these works are supposed to sound, here they’re treated as sacred texts not to be meddled with. And that is more than you could reasonably ask of most conductors. --Daniel Ross

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Timbo on 16 Oct 2013
Having listened to the many different cycles of Beethoven Symphonies on vinyl and CD over the last 50 years I was quite excited at the prospect of hearing this cycle following rave reviews in magazines etc.. I have listened to all the symphonies except the Ninth. I have changed my original opinions although my reservations remain regarding symphonies 7 and 8. I have to agree with many other reviewers in that tempi are rather quick but wonder if this isn't what Beethoven wanted with reference to his metronome markings.The marvellous descant for French Horns in the 7th is all but lost and the 8th is surely just too frenetic. I wouldn't rate this set as 'The best yet' but probably in the top 10. I am still quite happy to keep my Mackerras and Gardiner sets along with the 1961 Karajan set which I was brought up on.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ben Hall on 2 Mar 2013
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As a follower of Decca recordings for nearly 50 years but not a great fan of Beethoven symphonies I read other reviews with more than usual interest. The note about speed suggested that Chailly might provide me with a rendering of Beethoven's symphonies that could inspire like Ashkenazy's recordings of Beethoven's five piano concerti. Chailly and Decca do not disappoint. I have listened to all nine symphonies more times in three months than in the preceding thirty years. A particular revelation was the performance of the sixth symphony which has a lively spring-like opening that is inspirational.

The orchestral playing and recording are what we expect and listening with headphones - Grado SR60 in my case - was most rewarding. There are many instances of splendid crescendi and diminuendi with Leonore No. 3 being particularly exciting.

All five discs provide more than 70 minutes of playing time and include several overtures. Particular favourites being Leonore No. 3 to end CD1; Fidelio on CD2 and Egmont at the start of CD4.

Thoroughly recommended.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Brooks on 13 Oct 2012
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Well this is a refreshing CD set to listen to, no OTT styling of the music, but plenty of drama and tension. Some of the movements do sound fast but that is just a perception based on what we have heard before. The speed gives the music a real sense of urgency and excitement. OK this set will not please those looking for a "romantic" interpretation, but I have been thrilled with it, and the Gewandhausorchestre are, quite simply, stunning, demonstrating to perfection what a great orchestrator Beethoven really was.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Terry C. on 24 Sep 2012
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Being rather old, I've been listening to these symphonies since 1952. At Proms, at RFH and on LPs (Told you I was old ....) But these recordings are something else. Like I had missed a lot before !
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr David A Vickers on 24 Dec 2012
Superb recording of the nine that misses nothing despite its tempo. My fav at the moment is the opening of the 6th which here sounds so light and joyful.

If you want a good laugh, try listening to Barenboim's immediately after: you will think someone has slipped something into your drink.
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By lewis silvestri on 30 Oct 2014
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A brilliant interpreter of Beethoven.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Allsopp on 3 May 2013
Beethoven seems to polarise views. Do you go for the tedious slow Mantovani sound (no names!) or head for the period versions with guts and small tubes? The old versions now seem pedestrian but on the other hand I can't help feeling that Beethoven might fancy the possibilities a modern orchestras brings. Would he really choose all that horn hand-stopping? Well this cycle brings the crisp tempo and colourful freshness of a period performance and fuses it with the opulent sound of the Leipzig players. Add in the intelligent, playful, creative direction of Mt Chailly and you have in my humble opinion the best ever recorded cycle of the symphonies - by a long way. Every time I listen I realise that, if I had to, this is the one I would take to the island and would cheerfully let the others sink. Sublime!
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By timpeck on 21 April 2012
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A fine set of recordings with a first class orchestra. My only concerns were a tendency to set too fast a tempo and at times an imbalance between the brass and percussion and the rest of the orchestra, the former being too loud and tending to drown out the strings.
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