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Beethoven: 9 Symphonies Box set


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Audio CD, Box set, October 11, 1991
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$54.99 $5.58

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Product Details

  • Performer: Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Charlotte Margiono, Rudolf Schasching
  • Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (October 11, 1991)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Teldec
  • ASIN: B000000SDB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,161 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Symphony No. 1 In C Major, Op. 21: Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
2. Symphony No. 1 In C Major, Op. 21: Andante cantabile con moto
3. Symphony No. 1 In C Major, Op. 21: Menuetto: Allegro molto e vivace
4. Symphony No. 1 In C Major, Op. 21: Finale: Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Symphony No. 6 In F Major, Op. 68 'Sinfonia pastorale': Allegro ma non troppo - Awakening Of Joyful Feelings On Arrival In The Country
2. Symphony No. 6 In F Major, Op. 68 'Sinfonia pastorale': Andante molto moto - Scene At The Brook
3. Symphony No. 6 In F Major, Op. 68 'Sinfonia pastorale': Allegro - Merrymaking Of The Country Folk
4. Symphony No. 6 In F Major, Op. 68 'Sinfonia pastorale': Allegro - Thunderstorm
See all 9 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Symphony No. 2 In D Major, Op. 36: Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
2. Symphony No. 2 In D Major, Op. 36: Larghetto
3. Symphony No. 2 In D Major, Op. 36: Scherzo: Allegro
4. Symphony No. 2 In D Major, Op. 36: Allegro molto
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Symphony No. 4 In B Flat Major, Op. 60: Adagio - Allegro vivace
2. Symphony No. 4 In B Flat Major, Op. 60: Adagio
3. Symphony No. 4 In B Flat Major, Op. 60: Allegro vivace
4. Symphony No. 4 In B Flat Major, Op. 60: Allegro ma non troppo
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 5
1. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125: Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
2. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125: Molto vivace
3. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125: Adagio molto e cantabile
4. Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125: 1. Presto - Allegro assai - 2. Presto - Rezitativo - 3. Allegro assai vivace alla marcia - 4. Allegro ma non tanto

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

When it was first released in 1991, this set created a furor. Nikolaus Harnoncourt is famous as one of the pioneers of the "authentic instrument" movement, but he is also a musician of deep insight and strong, sometimes willful, interpretive gifts. He opts here for modern instruments played in period style for strings and winds, but mixes them with antique brass and percussion. The result is a truly fresh look at Beethoven that has worn well over time. Harnoncourt naturally excels in the early works--the ones closest to his 18th-century period of specialization. But he succeeds equally in the Big Conductor Test pieces, like the Fifth and Seventh. The performances of the Sixth and Ninth are more controversial, one being extremely relaxed (it is the Pastoral symphony after all), the other a bit lightweight. The sum total, however, remains a major statement by one of the most provocative and important conductors of our time. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

Very clean and precise sound quality.
Robert P Derrick
Harnoncourt has a very individual approach, and every symphony has at least one or two surprises.
Aaron
It was an investment definitely worth making!
Gregory M. Zinkl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Aaron on November 9, 2005
Overall, I'd highly recommend Harnoncourt's cycle.

First, a little about the overall character: The symphonies are performed on a mid-sized orchestra using modern instruments (except for the horns), but with certain period performing practices. For example, there is noticably less vibrato than normal, and tempos tend to be a bit brisker than most modern instrument performances. Harnoncourt has a very individual approach, and every symphony has at least one or two surprises. Finally, for those who find it important (like me), all repeats are included.

Now, for the individual symphonies:

1, 2, & 4: I don't have vast knowledge of what these three symphonies sound like on other disks, but I think they sound great here, and are all my #1 versions.

3: The first two movements are taken on the fast side, and aside from some obscured detail in one part of the first movement, come off very well. In the first movement, the horns at the very end of the development blare so triumphantly it literally startled me the first couple of times. The last movements are pretty much standard, and also very good. My favorite so far.

5: An excellent version. I've never heard the oboe solo in the first movement sound as emotionally powerful as it does here. This version and Kleiber's are my favorites.

6: This is the most complained-about part of this set. I actually have no objections to this version, though I haven't heard any of the versions frequently cited as the best.

7: Kleiber's version is just plain better in my opinion. In Harnoncourt's last movement, the main theme tends to get buried under the "rhythm section," and the other movements don't surpass Kleiber in any way I could hear. It's still a good version, though.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Gregory M. Zinkl on August 7, 2000
I paid full price for this set when I was a broke graduate student. It was an investment definitely worth making!
Harnoncourt's conducting can be quite tiring; accents way overdone, tempi rushed here, phrases dragged there. But this recording, well, Harnoncourt emerges as one of The Great Beethoven interpreters.
Let's start off with the approach. It's a compromise between period instruments and modern instruments. For the most part, it's all modern instruments that play in an "authentik" style. My predisposed response would usually be: "Well, that's doomed for failure!" Turns out, that response would not have considered the brilliance of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, an amazing ensemble that is as chimeric as you desire. They execute Harnoncourt's conception with blazing intensity, accuracy, and enthusiasm.
Harnoncourt's conception: a little more quick than most, maybe slower than some conductors with period bands, but it's all wonderful. Take symphonies 1 and 2. Masterpieces that aren't performed enough. They smile in his hands. They startle. They provoke. That's what they should be! Have you noticed the very first two chords of No. 1? Geez, what was LvB thinking of? They symphony sounds like it should end before it's started--and Harnoncourt gives you that impression.
And so it goes. Other reviewers seemed to have found No. 6 eccentric. I find it to be wonderful, and totally different than my expectations (which were: dismal failure. He'll go too fast, or be pushy). It bubbles and gurgles! No. 9 is the only one that didn't wow me, but it's hardly a bad peformance. Furtwangler really has a stranglehold on the ninth for me.
Wonderful music, great engineering, good documentation.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By J. Luis Juarez Echenique on April 30, 2000
Harnoncourt sees the Beethoven symphonies from the XVIII Century onwards, rather than from Bruckner backwards. The gain is obvious: clearer string lines, woodwinds and brass far better balanced (remember that Toscanini used to double them and what a mess they made). The playing of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe is of the highest order, they easily match the BPO or the VPO in their finest days. Harnoncourt is very consistent through out, there are no "weak" movements in any symphony, let alone a whole symphony that is less than excellent. Please disregard the Gramophone recommendation which would like you to believe that Sir Colin Davis recent Staatskapelle cycle in Philips is the best digital version, of course it's not. Davis is no longer the exciting conductor he was in the 60's, now Harnoncourt leads the way into Beethoven's sound world. By the way, if you want to complement Harnoncourt's vision try to add to your collection Jordi Savall's fiery "Eroica" in Auvidis and Herreweghe's Ninth Symphony in Harmonia Mundi.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 2, 2001
Many have rightfully described this as the definitive Beethoven symphony cycle, with Nikolaus Harnoncourt demonstrating that he is one of the finest interpreters of Beethoven. Here he leads the 50 member Chamber Orchestra of Europe through exhilirating performances of the the first five and last three symphonies; virtually all of these can be described as definitive. The only weak link is the 6th Symphony; a good performance which doesn't seem nearly as compelling as those conducted by Karl Bohm or Bruno Walter. Harnoncourt literally invented the practice of using authentic period instruments to play Baroque and Classic music, but here he follows a more traditional approach; his sole omission is the use of natural (valve-less) trumpets. His brisk, energetic conducting of these symphonies, based on his own independent scholarship, is quite akin to those like Zinman and Abbado who have adhered to the new Jonathan Del Mar-edited scores. Yet Harnoncourt is much more successful than either Zinman or Abbado in probing the depths and extolling the richness of Beethoven's symphonic music. The set also includes Hartmut Krones' conversation with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, revealing the conductor's views of the scores, and a terse set of fine notes detailing their structure and history of composition.
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