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Beethoven: The Symphonies Box set


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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 Sep 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B000AC5B0W
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 485,487 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brioSir Colin Davis 9:30£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 2. Andante cantabile con motoSir Colin Davis 8:33£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 3. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)Sir Colin Davis 3:30£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 4. Finale (Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace)Sir Colin Davis 6:01£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92 - 1. Poco sostenuto - VivaceSir Colin Davis14:54£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92 - 2. AllegrettoSir Colin Davis 9:41£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92 - 3. Presto - Assai meno prestoSir Colin Davis10:19£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92 - 4. Allegro con brioSir Colin Davis 9:12£0.79  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brioSir Colin Davis12:55£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 2. LarghettoSir Colin Davis11:21£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 3. Scherzo (Allegro)Sir Colin Davis 3:53£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 4. Allegro moltoSir Colin Davis 6:53£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93 - 1. Allegro vivace e con brioSir Colin Davis10:02£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93 - 2. Allegretto scherzandoSir Colin Davis 4:09£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93 - 3. Tempo di menuettoSir Colin Davis 5:12£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93 - 4. Allegro vivaceSir Colin Davis 8:11£0.79  Buy MP3 


Disc 3:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 1. Allegro con brioSir Colin Davis18:49£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)Sir Colin Davis17:24£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)Sir Colin Davis 6:01£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 4. Finale (Allegro molto)Sir Colin Davis12:48£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Beethoven: Music to Goethe's Tragedy "Egmont" Op.34 - OvertureSir Colin Davis 8:59£0.79  Buy MP3 


Disc 4:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 1. Adagio - Allegro vivaceSir Colin Davis11:51£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 2. AdagioSir Colin Davis 9:57£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 3. Allegro vivaceSir Colin Davis 5:59£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 4. Allegro ma non troppoSir Colin Davis 7:00£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 1. Allegro con brioSir Colin Davis 7:55£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 2. Andante con motoSir Colin Davis10:38£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 3. AllegroSir Colin Davis 6:02£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 4. AllegroSir Colin Davis11:19£1.49  Buy MP3 


Disc 5:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 1. Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande: Allegro ma non troppoSir Colin Davis12:25£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 2. Szene am Bach: (Andante molto mosso)Sir Colin Davis13:48£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 3. Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute (Allegro)Sir Colin Davis 5:49£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 4. Gewitter, Sturm (Allegro)Sir Colin Davis 4:18£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 5. Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare Gefühle nach dem Sturm: AllegrettoSir Colin Davis 9:36£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Beethoven: Overture "Leonore No.3", Op.72bSir Colin Davis14:38£1.89  Buy MP3 


Disc 6:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestosoSir Colin Davis17:15£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 2. Molto vivaceSir Colin Davis13:36£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 3. Adagio molto e cantabileSir Colin Davis15:30£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - Presto -Sir Colin Davis 6:36£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - "O Freunde nicht diese Töne" -Franz Grundheber0:55£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - Allegro assai -Franz Grundheber 2:46£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - Alla marcia (Allegro vivace assai) -Chor der Staatsoper Dresden 4:38£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - Andante maestoso - Adagio non troppo, ma divoto -Chor der Staatsoper Dresden 3:37£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato -Chor der Staatsoper Dresden 2:17£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. - Allegro ma non tantoFranz Grundheber 4:12£0.79  Buy MP3 

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Nov 2005
Format: Audio CD
Wonderful to have this set available again. Davis is a masterly Beethovenian and the Dresden orchestra is second to none. The Eroica has terrific impact, the Fourth is as joyous as, in their different ways, Monteux or Klemperer’s recordings. The Fifth doesn’t rant but makes its full effect with dignity. The Ninth hasn’t got the best ever line-up of singers but it has its moments. The all-out winner is the Seventh. Davis’s early 1960s recording has long been rightly famous, but this remake beats it on all counts: all repeats are taken, the scherzo is unbelievably airborne and the finale pins you to the back of your seat. At this price it knocks spots off the alternatives from Wand, Masur, Zinman and even Mackerras.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Better Than I Remember It 10 Oct 2012
By Mark E. Stenroos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I first heard this set back in 1995 or so when it first came out. I was unimpressed and gave it away. Truth be told, Sir Colin Davis usually leaves me cold, and that includes his highly regarded Sibelius cycle with the BSO, a cycle that misses the Sibelius boat entirely, IMO, and with recorded sound that is simply sub-par, to boot.

But tastes can change with time, and seeing this set on sale for $16.99, I decided to give it another chance. It's definitely worth a listen as it features some of the most-gorgeous orchestral playing one could ever hope to hear. The recorded sound is also very fine, at least on this Philips issue (I haven't heard the Newton Classics licensed version). It's an up-close perspective with enough ambient mic-ing to give a nice bloom to the recorded sound. I do have a problem with the French horns sometimes sounding like trombones, but that's another story.

The main problem one will have with the set are with the interpretations, which are far out of the HIP-informed norm we get these days from even major conductors leading the BIG bands of the world. Davis takes a very loving approach to each work, perhaps too loving. Example: the opening movement of the Eroica, where the initial "sforzando" markings in the winds and strings seem to be underplayed...until one realizes that Beethoven has marked the dynamic as "forte," NOT "fortissimo," and that Davis is playing those sforzandi in the context of a forte dynamic (and let's remember that forte means "strong," not "loud."). Once the orchestra swells to the fortissimo, Davis plays the sforzandi much more forcefully...or normally, if you will. That begs the question: does Davis miss the boat when the szorfandi appear in the forte passages, or, is he revealing a nuance that escapes most conductors?

I think the answer to that depends on the listener.

Overall, these are straight-forward, beautiful renditions of the symphonies. Tempi are generally on the slow side of what we hear these days, and I liked that. To me, they're worth hearing for that alone, a real tonic to the slash and bang approach we get from the HIPsters, or the pseudo-HIPsters (like Chailly). Do these recordings rank near the top? No, not at all. But they're not a total waste either. I will probably return to these recordings more often than I will to Chailly's Decca set, but that's not saying much as neither Davis or Chailly make my Top Ten in Beethoven Symphony Cycles. Certainly, they're leaps and bounds ahead of Rattle's awful set on EMI.

I must report that the Ode to Joy Finale of the 9th is a real disappointment in this set. Davis is afflicted by perhaps the worst solo quartet ever, with a tenor who sounds like Dudley Do Right, a bass whose voice is as dry as a bone and a soprano whose tone is grating. The choir is underpowered and the whole thing lacks any sense of majesty. Davis plays a slight variant in the Minuet of the 8th that may escape the attention of most listeners (I mention it only because it's there, not as a point of recommendation). Sir Colin plays the triplet pick-ups in the basses in the Funeral March of the Eroica ON the beat, rather than ahead of the beat, which is a strange variant that just sounds wrong to me. There are any number of small variations from the norm in matters of articulation and balance throughout the set that don't seem to make all that much difference and that certainly do not amount to any kind of *statement* by the conductor.

So I find myself liking this set better than I did 17 years ago, but not enough for me to give it more than this very qualified and specific recommendation - 4 stars, which is an average of 5 stars for the beautifully recorded orchestral sound and 3 stars for Davis' interpretation. Were it not for the beauty of the playing, this set would rate 3 stars from me, tops.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
How did Davis arrive at his ideas about Beethoven? 30 July 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It seemed to me that once Colin Davis deserted England to wander between Munich and Dresden, his imitaiton of a dull German kapellmeister was well nigh perfect. This set of Beethoven symphonies is so underplayed and inert that Philips hasn't even issued the symphonies separately.

Shockingly, there aren't even many individual movements that stand out. The early symphonies don't suffer as much from Davis's overall blandness--I guess you could call them clasical in style. The Pastorale is given a pleasant run-trough. But when we arrive at the revolutionary heart of Beethoven's music, Davis seems not to care--these performances never struggle or triumph.

The Ninth opens without mystery or anticipation--it's so ordinary you might as well use it for background music. The scherzo has a bit of energy but no contrast in dynamics; everything is one mellow mezzo-forte. The sublime Adagio is done with respect (this seems to be Davis's prevailing attitude toward Beethoven), and there are no surprises in the straight-faced finale. Franz Grundhaber, a famous Wozzeck, is dreadful in the bass solo, but the remaining soloists and chorus acquit themselves well enough except for the soprano's bad intonation when her art is too high for her.

In sum, there's not much to say about a Beethoven cycle from a major condcutor that has attracted no reviews here except this one since it was issued a decade ago.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
No great revelations, but very solid generally. 25 April 2010
By J. K. Davis MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I LOVE the Beethoven symphonies and have heard over 30 complete sets. These are not works which require "advocacy" by the conductor to the extent that some of the less interesting 18th-19th century works do; the beauty and the importance of these works jumps right out at you. There are some slower tempos, such as in the 7th, which aren't to my taste, but the playing and the sound quality of these performances is excellent. It isn't that you can't produce poor recordings of these symphonies, for example Norrington (London Classical Players), Paavo Jarvi,
Krips, Marriner would be near the bottom of my list, but this set provides ample listening pleasure, especially the even-numbered symphonies.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Were this a Duo with #s 4,6,8 and either #s 1 or 2, it would... 16 Dec 2012
By Kirk List - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
... merit 4.5 stars. Australian Eloquence should do so because #s 4,6,and 8 are five star treasures. I find that the other six range from palatable (#s 1,2, and 5) to negligible (#s 3,7 and 9).In all of them the Dresden Staatskapelle is exemplary. Only in #s 4,6,8 does it play with requisite passion and beauty. Each one of this trio is phenominally lovely and is recorded in
ideal sound. The winds in all three are perfect-try the first movement of the Pastoral, the outer movements of #4 and the third movement trio of #8. Only Eugen Jochum/RCOA and BPO has matched this #8 trio. The contrast between these three and the other six I find startling a la Jekyll-Hyde.. In #s 4,6,and 8, the Colin Davis of the Haydn London symphonies, earlier Berlioz, and later Idomeneo and Clemenza di Tito
presides. Would one buy the set anyway? In light of the competition (e.g Szell, Jochum, Reiner, Erich Kleiber, Steinberg)
probably not. But try one of these three first.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Avoid this set 21 Jan 2012
By Prescott Cunningham Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Hindsight is always 20/20. In the early part of his career, Davis received high praise for his recordings - his (still) reference cycle of Haydn's "tremendous dozen;" his fierce Dvorak; his reference Sibelius; and his blazing Berlioz. Now, however, one realizes the common denominator to all these early successes was the orchestra - the Concertogebouw and Boston. And really, when you listen to, say, his Haydn, once you get past the absolutely brilliant playing, one can hear that there really is not much coming from the podium in terms of interpretive insight aside from spirited tempos and a focus on clarity. For Haydn, this very well may be enough, although conductors as varied as Dorait, Harnoncourt, and Bruggen have shown us how much there really is to say in the London dozen.

Beethoven, however, is made of sterner stuff and requires the man in charge to do more than simply bat his baton. Absent some interpretive, spiritual, or architectural focus from the podium, Beethoven becomes an absolute bore. And that is exactly what Davis gives us here - boring Beethoven.

Not even the fabulous playing of the Dresden Staatskapelle can save this set from top-to-bottom mediocrity. That is not to say that the orchestra does not sound its typical, fabulous self. The strings are as dark, rich, and "German" as you're likely to find, the winds idiomatic and attentive, and the brass bright and blazing. There are some beautiful moments of inner part detail peppered throughout the cycle (the horns in the Eroica's scherzo (!)) and tutti passages have that great Teutonic sound that we only get from Dresden and Leipzig. But even the Staatskapelle cannot save Davis from his uninventive self.

Davis's problem is entirely one of emphasis. Most of his interpretive energy goes into shaping transitions and cadence figures. This means slight affectations and annoying rubatto abound, resulting in a complete loss of tension. The famous horn (and subsequent bassoon) bridge in the fifth's allegro sounds more like a heavy sigh; the coquettish transition into the second theme of the Eighth's allegro trips up in all the wrong ways; the flat-footed minuetto in the Fourth just drags, especially in the unnecessarily heavy trio.

On the other hand, Davis seems entirely uninterested in drive and power. The allegros go absolutely no-where due to his complete lack of energy. True, his incredibly slow speeds do not help, but it is less a function of tempo than it is brio. No one would accuse Bohm or Klemperer, who have some equally steady tempos, as being boring because each conductor imbued the music with something more. Not here - Davis just lets the music drown in a lugubrious puddle of interpretive blandness.

A direct comparison with Blomstedt's cycle with the same orchestra is instructive. Both conductors adopt a slow and steady approach to the Eroica's funeral march, but how different Blomstedt subtle darkness sounds compared to Davis, who has no interest in juxtaposing the minor and major episodes, playing the whole march with a general canonizing blandness that is just inexcusable. Or take the Eighth - both conductors opt for a very slow ten minute opening allegro, but right from the beginning of Blomstedt's performance, you can immediately hear power, energy, and a hard-hitting focus that is thrilling. From Davis, the music sounds garbled, messy, and watered down. Overall, Blomstedt's fantastic drive towards climaxes, clear articulation and textural clarity, colorful timbral palette, and sensitivity to the Beethoven idiom (or at least the German tradition) put Davis's run-through to shame. From Davis, scherzos have no humor, slow movement no pathos, and allegros go nowhere.

In some ways, I find this cycle has merit, if only because the Dresden orchestra sounds so fantastic. And in terms of orchestral execution, I will take this set over the sloppy sets from Abbado and Rattle any day. But even at their worse, Abbado and Rattle still have ideas about Beethoven. And while they might not always work, at least there is some meat to those bones. Here, however, there really is nothing. Indeed, at times, the only way you would even know that Davis showed up for these sessions is his constant gesticulations and guttural grunting. He would have been better served by turning that energy outward. And you would be better served by turning elsewhere for Beethoven - Szell, Toscanni, Vanska, Gardiner, Bohm, Wand, Schmidt-Isserstedt ... the list goes on and on. Life's too short for bad Beethoven.
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