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Beethoven - Complete Edition (85CD + CD ROM) Box set

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Composer: Beethoven
  • Audio CD (18 April 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 85
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Brilliant Classics
  • ASIN: B004HGQXB8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,942 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Product Description

The only complete Beethoven Edition in the market. This set contains some important alterations compared to the former Edition: Symphonies are played by the superb Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt and Piano Sonatas by Alfred Brendel. Big names: Arthur Grumiaux/Clara Haskil, Friedrich Gulda, Guarneri Quartet, Concertgebouw Orchestra/Haitink, Wiener Philharmoniker, Heinrich Schiff and many more. This set also contains a CD-ROM with bookletnotes, sung texts and biography in English, Italian and Spanish. Award winning set: Diapason dOr in France.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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I have a large collection of Beethoven recordings and did not really need yet another set of the symphonies, the piano sonatas, piano concertos, violin sonatas, cello sonatas, string quartets, etc. I therefore bought this very reasonably priced complete edition to be able to hear all the works, and there are many of them, that are virtually unknown, whether these are orchestral, choral and chamber works of some size or things like the pieces for musical clock, minuets and many other sets of dances, sonatinas for mandolin (yes, mandolin!), a large number of works for wind instruments, an early piano concerto, many sets of variations and other things for piano, works for organ, folk song arrangements: all of those works without opus number that outnumber those with one! Truly a complete picture of Beethoven, who was not always on the mountain tops but often busily writing pieces just to earn a living.

What then of the music that is so well known? Does this edition do justice to the works that display Beethoven's unique and all embracing genius? It most certainly does. There is Herbert Blomstedt's superb set of the symphonies with the Staatskappele, Dresden. Then there is Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's recordings of most of the overtures with the Minnesota Orchestra - absolutely magnificent. Alfred Brendel's first set of the piano sonatas may not have all the insights that he was later to reveal in his distinguished career, but they are still well worth hearing. The performances by Arthur Grumiaux and Clara Haskill of the violin sonatas are surely as good as any in the catalogue and soon make you overlook that the recordings from the mid-fifties are not of the quality that we expect today.
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Format: Audio CD
This Beethoven Complete Edition Box is one of the best investments you could make in your classical music collection. Brilliant Classics has done a remarkable job in presenting 85 CDs that cover just about everything Beethoven ever composed, and to my ears, probably a tad more than most of us will over really listen to. Almost nothing in this set would get a one star if I were rating it alone, and the majority of the set would get somewhere between four and five stars. As a beginning set, or one to fill out your existing Beethoven collection, this is simply a knock out.

Let me address the major groupings in the set, and try to rate them in a way that make sense - one rating for performance and the other for sound quality.

Symphonies and Piano Concertos. Performance: 4 stars, Sound: 4 stars. Herbert Blomstedt and the Staatskapelle Dresden performing the symphonies. While not Solti, Walter, or Karajan, I am glad to have added these recordings to my collection. Tempos are a little slow, and the equalization is a touch dark - partially due to recording location. However the performances are clear, stereo separation is remarkable. Gulda on piano with Stein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic on most of the piano concertos is a real find. I had never even heard of pianist or conductor before purchasing this set, but these are as fine a performance of these works as anything in my collection. But the hidden treasure in this part of the collection is Stanislav Skrowaczevski conducting the Minnesota Orchestra on overtures and orchestral showpieces. Clear recordings and fantastic performances. I own his Bruckner recordings, and he is one of the most under-rated conductors of the modern era.

The Chamber Music. Performance 4 stars. Sound: 5 stars.
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Format: Audio CD
Okay, so I ordered this boxed set from Europe to get a much cheaper price than I could in the ' States (even when S & H are added in) and I now own "the complete" Beethoven on CD! I have listened to the entire set and of course there is a range of quality but who could complain about having 87 CDs of Beethoven for less than $1 per disc? Most of the versions are quite serviceable or even very good.

HOWEVER....
I decided that there are some things that I really have to complain about, despite this being a good deal.

1. The tracks are often "run together" with absolutely no break being provided between them. Thus, as soon as one movement ends we often hear a new movement or even a new work (of entirely different character) starting up with no pause whatsoever!

2. Whoever wrote up the information on the disc sleeves apparently knew nearly nothing about classical music. The information about the timings isn't 100% reliable, it is common that fast movements with an introduction will be marked only with the tempo of that introduction (andante, adagio) instead of including the predominant tempo (allegro, presto, vivace), and the completeness of the set is difficult to verify due to the different numberings used in the Hess and the WoO listings.

3. Indexing is inferior - there's a general overview of the type of content on each disc, for a quick reference, but if one is looking for a specific work, it helps to speak German, and even then it's really hard to predect how they've classified things in the alphabetical German index. I went looking for a particular set of Lieder (Op. 48) and eventually found them listed under "Bitten" - how would I have known??
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