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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barenboim for All - the Symphonies
Beethoven's symphonies have been gifted two extraordinary surveys in the past year, both on Decca. Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester took a strict-to-metronome approach, reaping considerable interpretative rewards. Theirs was a fleet and furious cycle, imbued with an untameable joie de vivre. Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra take a more...
Published on 13 Sep 2012 by Entartete Musik

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2 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars beethoven for all
poor qualtiy recording and a very lack luster performance. will be returning cds as they jump which ruins pleasure of continuity.
Published on 29 Aug 2012 by natben12


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barenboim for All - the Symphonies, 13 Sep 2012
By 
Entartete Musik (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Beethoven's symphonies have been gifted two extraordinary surveys in the past year, both on Decca. Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester took a strict-to-metronome approach, reaping considerable interpretative rewards. Theirs was a fleet and furious cycle, imbued with an untameable joie de vivre. Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra take a more sober approach. Not for them the pursuit of any 'historically informed' touches, making the WEDO sound considerably broader and 'European' here. This has a formidable impact on the scores, albeit with ultimately mixed results.

The funeral march in the 'Eroica', for instance, is pensive, proper and in a completely different conceptual and musical league to Dudamel's recent slack recording with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Barenboim understands where this movement has come from and where it's going. Imbued with the weight of that history, its significance tells immediately. The silences crackle like log-jammed synapses. You eagerly await more.

Such concentration pays further dividends in the battleground of the 5th Symphony, where nothing is taken for granted. The determination in Barenboim's Beethoven comes not from speed (as with Chailly), but from its weight and tenacity. That iron will elicits motivic understanding from the players and consequently a formidable sense of structure. The lower end of the dynamic range has insidious tension, not least in the allegretto of the 7th Symphony, which, rather than providing a means to a fortissimo end, both enhances the finale and its own music.

Not everything is so well served by Barenboim's well-upholstered approach. True, the dissonance at the beginning of the 1st Symphony has a new (or renewed) magnitude, but the 4th symphony is far too grounded and the 'Pastoral' over polite. What offers elastic tension in the finale of the 5th or 7th Symphonies, feels posed in its hymn of thanks. The storm is a gentle rain shower rather than Chailly's hurricane (before he admittedly rushes the rest). Neither can possibly top Kleiber in this.

At first, Barenboim's 9th Symphony appears weighed down by the same pensiveness, not least in the finale. What he uncovers, however, is a richer dichotomy by far. Joyful woodwind cuts through the chorale-like seriousness of the strings, goading them into the 'Ode for Joy'. With superb singing from his soloists and the Vokalensemble Kölner Dom alike - as well as deliciously camp percussion - Barenboim embraces a much wider spectrum than his peers, all the time building through that structure. The final unleashing of Schiller's text is mind-blowing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven at it's best, 18 Dec 2012
This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
I first heard the East Western Divan orchestra (made up of young amateur musicians from the Middle East (Arab & Israel) under the direction of one of it's founders - Daniel Barenboim on a DVD of the 2012 BBC Proms, where they performed all 9 symphonies. I then knew that I had to have the CDs. What a pleasant surprise to find them on Amazon a a very special price. The performances by this young orchestra are superlative and the CD set has become a treasured possession. I thoroughly recommend these recordings to anyone!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barenboim and West-Eastern Divan, 22 Aug 2012
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I consider this recording as one of the best interpretations of Beethoven symphonies. The dynamics, the richness of tones and textures make me feel I am both playing in the orchestra and listening it from the Gallery of the Royal Albert Hall where Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan performed the same music during the 2012 Proms.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven complete symphonies by Daniel Barenboim, 25 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
I heard these at the proms last summer and thought they brought a new and exciting sound to the Beethoven symphonies. The CDs lived up to my expectations and they are very worthwhile addition to my library. The price was an added bonus. They will give many years of pleasure. Thankyou.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Apology, 6 Sep 2012
By 
,John Kelly (Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Some recently minted octagenarians (like me) try playing music CD's on a DVD player - I did with this Beethoven For All!! And the chaptering did not work!! Surprise,surprise. However, we learn from our mistakes. I am happy to say that my discs plays very well on a CD player - as good as the live broadcast from the Proms. Allow me, then, to encourage music lovers to acquire this set and enjoy nine gloriously performed symphonies.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAPPINESS, pure and blissful., 24 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
I had downloaded Karajan's recordings of the 9 Beethovens from my DVDs onto my MP4 and therefore listened often. After hearing (and seeing) Danial Baremboim and his Divan orchestra play them at the Proms 2012 I found it impossible to listen to the Karajan recordings. I even began to doubt that I was listenting to the same works. A whole new world had suddenly opened up. Need I say more?
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you love Beethoven - West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is the best!, 6 Dec 2013
By 
S. Lawson "Doc73" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I first caught the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra on TV performing Beethoven's 9th on the Proms and was blown away by them. Since then, it's my preference to only listen to Beethoven's work by them. I've listened to others orchestra's but nothing seems to capture the emotion, the beauty and magnificence of the original work as they do.
I'm often moved to tears listening to their recording of Beethoven's 9th. To me, if you're going to listen to the works of Beethoven at it's best, then this is the recording for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection., 8 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
If you want a collection of all the Beethoven symphonies conducted by Barenboim who really knows the music and with an orchestra that has been honed skillfully this is the one to get. I just regret that it took me so long to buy this collection.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not only a fan of Beethoven, but of Daniel Barenboim too!, 28 April 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
See also my review of Brahms symphonies ... this review reflects exactly the same opinion I have of getting them all in a box at a reasonable price but still with great recordings, composers and music directors, like Daniel Barenboim! Wow! Annika, Brussels
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barenboim: No mere Furtwangler clone & a Beethoven cycle from a Postmodern Romantic, 29 Nov 2013
This review is from: Beethoven For All: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
The critical consensus is right on this one: This cycle with the West-Eastern Divan, while having some expectant high and low points, cannot favorably compare to Barenboim's excellent and historical cycle with the Staatskapelle Berlin from a decade before. Beethoven: Complete Symphonies

The main reason is the orchestra. The West-Eastern Divan is, essentially, an orchestra in its adolescence. The Pastorale and the Choral symphony are high points. The Eighth, with its diaphanous composition, almost always risks suffering most under the romantic spell and does so here as well. Barenboim's Fifth is radically rooted in the German tradition, so dramatically, that it will probably remain a point of debate. The rest of the cycle, like the fifth, is idiosyncratic, but never dull.

There is a temptation to ask: "why?" of this cycle, after such an excellent traversal in 2005. Well, of course, it's part of a big marketing extravaganza called "Beethoven for All." This includes the piano sonatas and piano concertos. Both of these, Barenboim has performed and recorded before (to mixed results, but never better than here.)

The filmed performances of these symphonies (and concertos), really is the way to go. Beethoven: Symphonies 1- 9 (Barenboim) [DVD] [2013]Beethoven Piano Concertos 1 - 5 ( Daniel Barenboim Staatskapelle Berlin) [Blu-ray] [2009] [NTSC]

Yes, they are the same performances, but are so lush and lucid in documentation that "seeing" the event, committed music-making, and enthusiasm, considerably diminishes reservations to all but those who are already cemented in long-standing "bandwagon" biases; biases which are overdue in addressing:

The "general" rule of thumb in assessing Barenboim's art is to dismiss all the cliched, dull and, yes, inherently lazy "copying Furtwangler" crutches/accusations that so many armchair critics unimaginatively lean on and repeat like a broken record. That Barenboim has a lifelong admiration for and identification with Furtwangler's "better" performances is well known. Likewise (and less known), Barenboim holds a similarly strong identification with Klemperer, Celibidache, Walter, and Kubelik. In other words, Barenboim jumps from the Romantic diving board. He identifies with much in the German Romantic tradition, as opposed to being influenced by it. Essentially, Barenboim is, on the surface, a bit of an oxymoron: he is a post modern romantic. While his identification plane is clear, it is also eclectic and Barenboim comes up his own man.

Like Klemperer, Barenboim is not adverse to elements of modernism, and this includes his exemplary work with innovative stage directors like Harry Kupfer (Parisfal and the Ring), Doris Dorrie (Cosi),the late Patrice Chereau (Wozzeck,Tristan),and Heiner Muller (another excellent Tristan). Barenboim has also ventured into modern music with generally good results: His recent Schoenberg is superb, ranking with the likes of Karajan and Stokowski. Daniel Barenboim / West Eastern Divan Orchestra: Tchaikovsky/ Schoenberg Barenboim probably conducts Boulez better than Boulez (as he conducts Furtwangler better than Furtwangler), his Corigliano is still reference Symphony No. 1, and his occasional forays into Mahler have, on the whole, proven more interesting and sympathetic than committed Mahlerians, such as Abbado and Rattle. I include Mahler here because some attribute modernistic tenets to that composer (I am less reluctant to these days, with the exception of the 6th and 7th. Btw, Barenboim's 7th may be a reference that can compare to the likes of Scherchen, Gielen, Rosbaud, Kubelik,and Bernstein).Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Less consistent is Barenboim's handling of French music, although he is an excellent DebussianEntre Quatre Z Yeux [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] , and has long devotion to both tango music and jazz. Mi Buenos Aires QueridoTribute to Ellington

In an eclectic repertoire, Barenboim proves himself far more able and versatile than those he is often compared to (always to his disadvantage), but It does not end there. While Barenboim is an inconsistent artist (as all conductors are), his musicianship is consummate. Unevenness aside, in his commonly grounded German repertoire (mainly Beethoven, Wagner, and Bruckner) he proves himself a better conductor and more uniformly inspired than either Furtwangler or Klemperer (although R. Strauss and the Brahms symphonies strangely elude Barenboim).

While Furtwangler's Eroica and Choral are wholly deserving of their reputations, his various Fifths are a wildly uneven lot and the remaining symphonies, while generally good, have been bettered numerous times over, past and present (Barenboim being among those who have bested the master).

Barenboim's Wagner, while occasionally plagued by the dearth of good Wagnerian singers, is excellently conducted and, again, that excellence is far more consistent than Furtwangler (Although Furtwangler's Legge-produced Tristan and the wretched-sounding La Scala Ring are still performance references).

Furtwangler's Bruckner rep is well-deserved, but he had his clunkers (the mostly limpid '54 Eighth and wreck of a '51 Fifth). Additionally, Furtwangler, being a technophobe, immeasurably hurt his recorded legacy, as did Toscanini (and there were other conductors, during the period, who were insightfully committed to better sounding recordings).

Barenboim's excellence in Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Schumann (although, again, uneven) have rendered inefficient and are preferable to the bulk of Furtwangler's way with those composers. Similar comparisons could be made between Barenboim and Klemperer, Celibidache, et al.

The much missed, erudite musicologist Harold C. Schonberg (NY Times) was among those who, early on, rightly called out the "Copying Furtwangler" robotic catcalls as "ill-informed and sloppy listening" (this being in assessment of both Barenboim's conducting and pianistic skills). David Hurwitz is among the newer crop of critics who echo Schonberg.

Of course, it doesn't matter what Hurwitz or Schonberg write, those married to their pre-exisiting, tedious biases will still choose to pour over Barenboim's idiosyncrasies like a fundamentalist scrutinizes over every single line from their bible. This is their limitation and while I have immense admiration for that priest; Furtwangler, I have not canonized him. It appears to do so obscures and hinders an even-handed embrace of an authentic and original, contemporary, romantic tradition.
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Beethoven For All: The Symphonies
Beethoven For All: The Symphonies by Daniel Barenboim (Audio CD - 2012)
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