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Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral"; Egmont Overture

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral"; Egmont Overture

29 Jan 2002

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 29 Jan. 2002
  • Release Date: 29 Jan. 2002
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:15:38
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001GSHB8O
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 490,283 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars forceful, lyrical performances 26 May 2003
By drollere - Published on
Format: Audio CD
the beethoven cycle recorded by george szell and the cleveland orchestra in the early 1960's is a miraculous and distinctive account of the symphonies and major orchestral overtures. it manages at the same time to be true to the spirit of beethoven yet immediately fresh and new when compared with almost any other performance available on disc.
szell raised the ensemble and technical control of the cleveland orchestra to an astonishing level, which allowed him many hair raising plunges through the music, for example in the last movement of the 5th symphony. the orchestra could render the full dynamic range, and the strings -- for example in the first chords of the egmont overture -- were capable of a powerful, rich sonority equal to a brass choir.
the real beauty in szell's interpretations is the orchestra's almost balletic sensitivity to rhythm and musical accent. these musicians don't just play the music as a dance, they express dancing as they play. it's a treat to be surprised by this irresistible, springing dance spirit in movements that are so often played as academic forms -- the disc of the 1st and 6th symphonies provides many happy moments. one regrets that there's no szell recording of beethoven's "creatures of prometheus" available.
i love these recordings. at a time when our culture relies on noise, speed, excess, vulgarity and lack of control to get our attention, it's a treat to hear beethoven that is sonorous, sprightly, forceful, lyrical and eloquent. and at a bargain price!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential CD 10 Aug. 2004
By L. Ku - Published on
Format: Audio CD
There's no secret that George Szell has always been regarded as one of the finest Beethoven intreperters ever, and after listening to this classic recording, one fully understands why. The first symphony, which I don't hold as a major Beethoven, is nicely played, though I'd complain that the Cleveland is awfully harsh on some of the opening notes and puts on too much accents. My favorite recording of the first symphony has always been an old one with Krips and the LSO, though that one lacks in sound quality and is hard to find find these days. Neither is the case with this Szell/Cleveland rendition; EMI Classics has a hefty reputation and another gem here. The sixth symphony as played here; I really can't imagine how any one can do better, or why anyone would want to record the sixth again; just seems absolutely pointless with the masterful performance out there. Szell vividly captures the programical story; you can just see yourself walking in the countryside, enduring through the thunderstorm, and passing by the merry gatherings. One notable spot - at the end of the opening movement, there's a very tricky solo for clarinet with upward arpegios. Cleveland principal, the legendary Robert Marcellus pulls it off perfectly and effortless. Brilliant playing.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Beethoven 12 Jan. 2003
By Michael Brad Richman - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In the 1950s and 60s, CBS/Columbia (now Sony Classical) had the great fortune to have three of America's best orchestras and their conductors on their recording roster -- Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. Nearly a half-century later, sadly only Leonard Bernstein remains a name that even the non-classical music world knows. But in the world of the compact disc, this is a wonderful thing, because while Leonard Bernstein analog stereo recordings sell at mid-price, classic performances by Ormandy and Szell are regulated to the budget line. Well, my friends there is justice because the vast majority of these "budget line" recordings are not only amazing, but some are still considered definitive more than 40 years later! One such definitive performance is this Szell recording of Beethoven's 1st and 6th symphonies, and in fact the whole cycle is still something at which to marvel. Never did something of such high quality come at such a small price. Enjoy!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent choice for those starting a classical collection 5 July 2011
By Anthony H. Young - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have owned this CD and others in the Szell Beethoven cycle for many years. This and the other CDs are so good I have had no desire to investigate the many other offerings out there. I concur with the other reviews of this rendition of Symphony No. 1 and No. 6 and cannot improve on their words. This is simply an excellent rendition of Beethoven's immortal symphonies.

Technical note: Even though this is not an SACD, I would recommend listening to the CD using a DVD player with HDMI cable connection to a receiver and with headphones! You will hear nuances you missed before with analog cables and speakers. In fact, I am rediscovering my entire CD collection in this way. HDMI pulls everything off the CD you never knew was there.

Also, at this bargain price, you can afford to collect the entire collection of symphonies Szell conducted with the Cleveland Orchestra.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid performance by a great orchestra 8 Dec. 2010
By Alexandre Dufresne - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Like Bruno Walter, George Szell was one of the great conductors of the 20th century. Like Walter, Szell had a style that was both unique and hard to match. Walter favored making the score sound like a piece of poetry, while Szell favored balance, discipline and precision. I'm a fan of both George Szell and Bruno Walter, so do not be alarmed that I am praising another conductor alongside Szell in my review.

George Szell's Beethoven cycle stands out as one of the greatest of all time, though Wilhelm Furtwangler's 1940's WW2 Beethoven recordings will always be the bench mak for Beethovne symphonies. The Szell cycle does have the advantage of being on Soney Classical's budget series, so they can be had for a bargain bin price if you search around. Be warned though, that Sony has not yet rereleased symphonies 4 & 7, so only the other seven are available. The entire cycle is worth getting though, especially symphonies 2 & 5.

On this disc, we get Symphonies 1 & 6, along with a wonderful rendition of the Egmont overture. Unlike other conductors, George Szell's Beethoven cycle includes many of the overtures, further enhancing the quality of the cycle. Symphony No. 1 was Beethoven's tribute to his mentor Haydn, and George Szell delivers a splendid recording.

Symphony No. 6 is also a great performance, and compares favorably to the Great Bruno Walter rendition from the 1960's. Walter and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra's reading of the 6th symphony is the standard bearer for that piece, but the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell has superior sound and playing quality and for most ears will be a better investment.
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