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on 14 February 2015
Toscanini an all-time great.
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on 5 May 2013
Having read all the other reviews there is nothing I can add!! I would certainly support the purchase of this set as it is a unique opportunity to get you hands on a piece of history for the price of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake!!! If you are new to Beethoven (is there anybody out there who is). This set will set your standard notwithstanding the lack of modern, sterile sound. GO GET IT.
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Well, one has to have a Toscanini version of those.
I was worried about the hiss, etc., but recordings are very clean indeed.
Now, probably Maestro was at his heights in 1930's rather than 1950's, but recording techniques were not, therefore this version seems to be a very good compromise.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 December 2005
Toscanini was world-famous for his Beethoven and it's nice to be able to revisit it so cheaply! Everything about this set is interesting. The sound is so-so but liveable with and the performances completely transcend it. There are hints of a rather hard-driven approach occasionally (unlike most conductors, Toscanini got faster, not slower, as he grew older), but it is all so compelling that I can live with that.
I remember these performances on LP in the 1950s - 39/11 per symphony for the longer ones ... and now you get the whole lot in cleaner sound for, well, next to nothing really. Not to be resisted!!
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2010
Obviously these are old recordings (early 1950s) so the sound quality isn't great, but it's mostly perfectly OK. Toscanini is one of the all-time greats, so if you already have the Beethoven symphonies by someone else, this is an interesting comparison. The NBC Symphony was a darned good band too, so there are no problems there. The interpretations are pretty traditional but as far as you can tell, Toscanini knew what he wanted and succeeded in getting it. In the end, you can't ask for much more than that. As noted in one of the other reviews, the tempos are on the quick side, though looking at other recordings for the lengths of movements, other conductors are not always slower. The last movement of the 9th symphony is a case in point - Toscanini does it in 23 minutes - about 5 minutes faster than Bohm or Furtwangler. But it all makes perfectly good musical sense, even to someone who recently had probably his only chance to sing in the chorus so knows it even better than he did from umpteen Proms performances.

If you're not sure about classical music, this is a far better introduction than any of those Classic FM "Even better than the last best ever classical collection" collections of 10-minute snippets, and probably about half the price.
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on 25 January 2011
Those of you who, like me, were brought up on the diet of execrable and almost inaudible Toscanini recordings served up by the engineers of Studio 8H at NBC (at a time when their Decca counterparts were producing the Solti Ring!) will be delighted to know that here, at last, is an audible and highly enjoyable account of the conductor's love affair with the Beethoven Symphonies. No, the sound isn't perfect by any means, but it is a long way, too, from the crackling and hissing cacophanies of old. What shines through in these recordings is the sheer joie de vivre of much of this music. No false grandeur or pomposity here. Toscanini lets the music sing, and the vibrancy and beauty of Beethoven's work is proclaimed in a way that many other earnest conductors have failed to do.

This collection of the nine symphonies is a real pleasure, and, of course, a real bargain. Buy at once.
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on 15 February 2014
“Relentlessly fast tempi, hard driven performances with many nice moments”. That’s how I remember some of the critical reviews of these Toscanini accounts in the 1950’s. (Yes I am that old!).
There are at least two reasons why you should invest in this collection of all the Beethoven symphonies: 1) Toscanini was a legendary conductor. It’s good to hear how he approached this music. 2) The cheap price. Even if you dislike the performances you haven’t wasted much money!
For me, I prefer the more relaxed interpretation for when I seriously want to listen to a Beethoven symphony. However, with improved sound quality as well, these Toscanini accounts are of much historical interest.
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on 5 February 2011
Many thanks to those who have reviewed this item. I remember borrowing LPs of these recordings while at school in Chelmsford (KEGS) in the Beatles era and the sound quality was excruciating to put it mildly but I felt there were wonderful performances in there somewhere. Yes indeed. With the rasp removed one can fully appreciate Toscanini's approach which anticipates the 'authentic' movement with brisk speeds and clean textures. 'Come scritto' does work when as here it is applied with a real sense of poetry. I started with the Pastoral which is not that easy to bring off and found it quite delicious, not a word I would have used in the 60s. The orchestra really on their toes throughout helps. At the price asked for this download do not hesitate. I calculate at less than a Mars bar per symphony. Try comparing that to the price of the original records!
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on 27 February 2012
It's easy to entertain doubts when considering a purchase like this - all nine of Beethoven's symphonies, among which are some of the greatest ever written. Surely this is too good to be true?

I bought this some months ago and, after taking time to digest the symphonies, I can honestly say that they compare favourably with any other versions that I have heard.

The recording isn't as grand as some other recordings - in places it doesn't have that big and bold sound associated with Beethoven (a result of the recording conditions) - but it won't take you long to adjust. Toscanini was a great conductor and the result is a very exciting cycle of symphonies. The individual voices of instruments come across very clearly, IMO, when compared to other recordings I have heard. Toscanini's tempo can also be a bit faster than other recordings. I personally do not feel they are rushed, though other's preferences may lay elsewhere.

In short, do not hesitate to buy this. If you don't already have the complete Beethoven symphonies, this is a worthwhile introduction. If you do, I would recommend this as an excellent comparison to the set you might have. Either way, the low price is well worth it and not something to distrust.
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on 1 June 2013
Even if you have other versions this is still and probably always will be one of the greats and for about the same price as a pint of cider in my local, Truly unbelievable.
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