The Brilliant Classics label has released several big Beethoven boxes, starting with the 40 disc `Masterworks' set in 2004 and then two further sets in 2007 of complete Beethoven works, one an 85 disc set and this 100 disc expanded version with an extra 15 discs of historical recordings which date from as early as the 1926 piano trio Op. 97 by Alfred Cortot.
Without hesitation the set I would recommend is this 100CD historical version, if only for its inclusion of Furtwanglers's much-debated 1951 performance of the 9th symphony, Klemperer's early 1955 3rd and Karajan's lesser played 1954 performances of the 5th and 7th.
The non-historical versions of the symphonies are an unusual choice. It would have been easy for Brilliant to use the Masterworks Herbert Blomstedt / Staatskapelle Dresden recordings but the unusual choice here is the 1974 cycle by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur, providing an opportunity to reflect on a somewhat rarely available recording.
The packaging is Brilliant's usual standard, a compact 30cm wide box with each CD in card sleeve showing orchestras, conductors, soloists, venues and recording dates. Included also is a CDROM with a brief Beethoven biography and comments on the music.
The particular versions may not be everyone's favourites, but I haven't heard any better version than this to give a complete overview of Beethoven's lifetime works.
I finally got my boxset of complete works of Beethoven and I was completely bowled over. This is an impressive collection. I wasn't quite sure which boxset to get especially when the price of this 100 cd boxset skyrocketed and I was seriously tempted to buy the cheaper 85 cd version. However patience and a little detective work paid off as I found it on amazon.de for 85euros.
Without a doubt I would recommend this over the 85 cd set as it gives you 15 extra cds with invaluable content -historical recordings of legendary Beethoven interpreters and these include :Symphony No9 by Wilhelm Furtwangler; Sympnony no 3 'Eroica' by Otto Klemperer; Symphony Nos 5&6 by Herbert Von Karajan; Piano Concerto No 5 'Emperor' by Edwin Fischer/Wilhelm Furtwangler; violin concerto by David Oistrakh; Piano Sonatas pathetique, mondschein, appasionata by Yves NAT; Piano Sonatas 30-31-32 by Arthur Schnabel;Piano Sonatas Waldstein, Appassionata, Nos 30-31 by Walter Gieseking; Hammerklavier Sonata by Soloman;Violin Sonatas By Adolf Busch/ Rudolf Serkin; Cello Sonatas by Pablo Casals/Horszowski; Archduke Trio by Alfred Cortot/ Jacques Thibaud/Pablo Casals; String Quartets by Hungarian Quartet and Fidelio by Wilhelm Furtwangler.
The complete works are on 85 cds and the additional 15 cds are as detailed above. There is a free cd rom with texts in English, Spanish, Italian and the original vocal texts. The recordings are brilliant, mostly DDD but some are ADD. This is really one not to miss and I am very happy to have gotten a set. I would highly recommend it to all Beethoven fans as well as all lovers of classical music.
I have had my eye on this collection for months as a lover of Beethoven but the price always put me off. Finally took the plunge and bought it for myself and now regret the delay as this collection 'Beethoven Complete Works' is superb. Plus you have the added bonus of the historical recordings of famous Beethoven interpreters....wonderful. I highly recommend this collection to any classical music lover.
I hesitated long and hard before buying this box set (at a lot less that the above price). I shouldn't have worried - the recordings are decent to very good to excellent. The only bad thing I have discovered is there has been an unwanted 2 second pause inserted between the last two movements of the Violin Concerto (they are meant to run on).
In retrospect I could have done without the extra historical cd's, I will probably never listen to them, so if you want to save some money go for the standard set.
Excellent value for money. Thank you Brilliant Classics.