Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Beethoven - 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces: Rise of the Masters
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on November 29, 2011
At the current Black Friday price of $3.99 you get all the symphonies, 4 of the five piano concertos, the violin concerto and the triple concerto, the Missa Solemnis, some really nice chamber music, some overtures and piano music. Phew! - all you can eat and more! 16 hours of music of a consistently high quality of performance and recording.

The Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra under Jansug Kakhidze gives us all Beethoven's symphonies. Jansug Kakhidze was a Georgian conductor, nicknamed "the Slavic Karajan" and died in 2002.These recordings face a lot of competition, but not at this price. You'd pay $7.99 for these recordings elsewhere in the Amazon catalogue Beethoven: The Complete Symphonies in High Definition. I'm not sure what the "High Definition" means - the bit rate on these is a respectable (if not HD) 232 kbps., but the sound is pretty impressive, the only difference here is that we don't get their recording of the Coriolan overture (but we do get it in another recording).

For me the highlights in this collection come from the Missa Solemnis - in a stellar recording by Antal Dorati with the European Symphony Orchestra; and the chamber music recordings.

Antal Dorati has a long history of acclaimed recordings, including some superbly recorded music with Mercury (check out Dorati conducts Bartók and Stravinsky: The Firebird; Fireworks; The Song of the Nightingale; Tango; Scherzo à la russeand his complete Haydn Symphony cycle Haydn: The Complete Symphoniesand Haydn operas Haydn: Operas, Vol.1 and Haydn: Operas, Vol.2. Dorati died in 1988, four months after recording this in Berlin in the context of a tour in which he played it in Moscow, Dresden, Berlin and London(four performances of the work within five days) as a plea for peace (he was a patron of Musicians Against Nuclear Arms). It is fitting, then that the "Agnus Dei", "Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace", is so meaningfully and powerfully sung here. So as a recording (described by "The Gramophone" as "something of a triumph, finely judged and splendidly sustained") this has a special place in Dorati's discography. The sound is good, if not absolutely well defined and the performers of a good standard, although I found the tenor, William Cochran, at times a little strained.In all in all this is a great addition to your collection, and not otherwise available on mp3 download.

Beethoven's chamber music is well represented here, even if it includes the old chestnuts the "Spring" and "Kreutzer" violin sonatas (the latter in a spirited performance by Emma Verhey) and the "Archduke" trio. But we do also get the Cello Sonata no3 and the String Quartet No 4 in C minor - pieces not so often heard and less well known.

We are fortunate here to have some recordings by previous BBC Young Musician of the Year and controversial runner up (in the end third place, having been originally judged joint first) at the 1998 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition Freddy Kempf. It is his trio that gives us the "Archduke" and we also have two piano sonatas- the Moonlight and Pathetique - once again a couple of the most well known.

Other pianists represented here are the Dutchman Ronald Brautigam (2nd and 3rd Piano Concertos), Christina Ortiz (5th concerto), Elizabeth Westenholz (4th concerto), Nodar Gabunia, Roland Pontinen and Dubravna Tomsic (sonatas)and Finghin Collins (Fur Elise). We also get Christian Tetzlaff, one of the new stars of the violin, playing the violin concerto with the SWR symphony orchestra under Michael Gielen, an interesting comparison with his famous recording with David Zinman and the Zurich Tonhalle Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Violin Romances.Teztlaff not surprisingly plays the violin concerto at a similar pace to his Zinman recording. After the clarity of the symphony recordings here I find the orchestra a bit sonically muddled, but this is still a superb performance and worth having at this price alone.

There is so much to write about here. At the moment I'm listening to the symphonies. I started at the 1st and am still trying to work out whether the strange Ondes Martinot kind of sound is my system or the recording. A kind of ethereal singing - unlikely to be the conductor? So I jumped ahead to the 9th. This is played with great energy in a crisp clear recording (HD?) in which the instruments are well focussed and the sounds sharply defined (the timps especially, often muffled in other recordings). There's so much competition for these symphonies so I like to listen for something new - even if it is something played that stands out in a new way, which can either be the recording or the conductor's interpretation. Fortunately Beethoven is so rich, artistically and intellectually, that there's often something new - as long as the recording isn't intrusive, or the musicianship of a poor standard. Here there are no problems with the recording and the musicianship.
So I'm happy with this 9th, a pleasure to listen to with some especially sweet wind playing and shimmering strings. Of course the key to the 9th is the final "Ode to Joy" movement, with the choir and soloists pronouncing Beethoven's final grand statement for humankind. It is here that the exquisite recording focus on the orchestra produces some fine sonorities and when the singers and choir enter you realise that this is a very fine recording with some heroic singing, especially from the men solists(with only a little tenor strain) and not a touch of distortion the from the choir!

The other symphonies have the same attention to detail in the recording (no more weird singing sounds though) and are played with great verve and variation - I can throughly recommend them,

The concertos are also well played and recorded. It's a shame we didn't have the piano concerto No. 1 (in fact the second) but I guess that would have not fitted the "100" model.

The Chamber music is consistently well played. I particularly enjoyed Emma Verhey's Kreutzer sonata and the Emperor Quartet. Also the piano music, played by quite a variety of players.

Buy this - 16 hours of quality Beethoven - that's 25 cents per hour!
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on January 22, 2012
1. I can add nothing to the reputation of this composer, who many consider to be the greatest of all time.

2. The music on the CD itself, by a variety of performers, ranges from pretty good to passable, with the performance of the symphonies being the weakest link.

3. Awesome Bargain! Grab it quick in case Amazon jacks the price back up. In fact, grab all of the "Supreme Classical Masterpieces" selections if the holes in your library for a composer are enough to justify the price. At this price, it takes only the tiniest hole to make the justification.

The title is a little misleading, though. Though there are 100 individual pieces of music this is achieved by breaking up each major work into its constituent pieces and counting each one. In some cases the entire work is included - a symphony, for example - while in others only part of the work is included - only the overture from "Egmont," for example. Altogether, there are 31 works in this collection. Here they are if you wish to see them conveniently, in order on the CD:

1. Egmont Overture
2. Sonata No. 5 in F Major for Violin and Piano
3. Sonata No. 9 in A Major for Violin and Piano
4. Sonata No. 3 in A Major for Cello and Piano
5. Piano Trio in B Flat Major
6. String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor
7. Große Fuge in B-Flat Major
8. Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major for Piano and Orchestra
9. Concerto No. 3 in C Minor for Piano and Orchestra
10. Concerto No. 4 in G Major for Piano and Orchestra
11. Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major for Piano and Orchestra
12. Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra
13. Triple Concerto in C Major for Violin, Cello, Piano
14. Coriolan, Op. 62_ Overture in C Minor
15. Sonata No. 8 in C Minor for Piano, Op. 13, Pathétique
16. Sonata No. 12 in A-Flat Major for Piano, Op. 26
17. Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor for Piano, Op. 27
18. Sonata No. 21 in C Major for Piano, Op. 52
19. Sonata No. 23 in F Minor for Piano, Op. 57
20. Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major for Piano, Op. 81
21. Missa Solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
22. Symphony No. 1 in C Major
23. Symphony No. 2 in D Major
24. Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major
25. Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major
26. Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
27. Symphony No. 6 in F Major
28. Symphony No. 7 in A Major
29. Symphony No. 8 in F Major
30. Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
31. Bagatelle in A Minor, Für Elise

And a more functional arrangement, if you wish to quickly index to your library:

1. Symphony No. 1 in C Major
2. Symphony No. 2 in D Major
3. Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major
4. Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major
5. Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
6. Symphony No. 6 in F Major
7. Symphony No. 7 in A Major
8. Symphony No. 8 in F Major
9. Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
10. Sonata No. 3 in A Major for Cello and Piano
11. Sonata No. 5 in F Major for Violin and Piano
12. Sonata No. 8 in C Minor for Piano, Op. 13, Pathétique
13. Sonata No. 9 in A Major for Violin and Piano
14. Sonata No. 12 in A-Flat Major for Piano, Op. 26
15. Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor for Piano, Op. 27
16. Sonata No. 21 in C Major for Piano, Op. 52
17. Sonata No. 23 in F Minor for Piano, Op. 57
18. Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major for Piano, Op. 81
19. Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra
20. Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major for Piano and Orchestra
21. Concerto No. 3 in C Minor for Piano and Orchestra
22. Concerto No. 4 in G Major for Piano and Orchestra
23. Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major for Piano and Orchestra
24. Triple Concerto in C Major for Violin, Cello, Piano
25. Piano Trio in B Flat Major
26. String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor
27. Große Fuge in B-Flat Major
28. Missa Solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
29. Egmont Overture
30. Coriolan, Overture in C Minor
31. Bagatelle in A Minor, Für Elise
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on December 28, 2011
At its current price of 2 dollars, this has to be one of the great bargains in the history of classical music. Most of the performances are excellent especially the Emperor Concerto, Missa Solemnis and Violin Sonatas. However, if you are buying this set to get the symphonies, I would look elsewhere. The Tbilisi Symphony is a good orchestra if you are listening to them in person. On a recording however, all of the deficiencies become crystal clear and it becomes quite obvious that this is a basically a mediocre orchestra. It is especially obvious in the finale of the Beethoven 7th. They simply cannot play this music with the precision it requires.

My suggestion is this: Buy this set and then later buy the Josef Krips recording of the symphonies for 6 dollars. It is one of the finest recordings of the Beethoven symphonies ever made and the 1960 sound is more than adequate.
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on May 20, 2012
If you need to fill holes in your Beethoven collection, or you're looking to replace that lost or broken CD. Or, if you've never bought a Beethoven CD or MP3, then this is the collection for you - at $1.99 you can hardly go wrong. You can't beat the price with a stick and you get hours and hours of quality music by the greatest composer of all time. Beethoven was a genius, his music powerful and unforgettable. You'll find all nine of his symphonies here, plus sonatas and other piano music, and other orchestral and chamber pieces. This music is beautiful, powerful, lyrical, and breath taking. You'll find yourself humming snatches of melody - I know I do. In the car, at home, in the shower, doing the dishes, I find myself humming the melody of a sonata or a selected part of one of my favorite symphonies. You will too, you'll see!

I've read in other reviews, that the quality of the work on the symphonies is lower. As a classical pianist myself, I can see what they're saying, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying the symphonies on these MP3s when I'm not in my pickier moods. For example, last night when I was making dinner, I decided a little Beethoven would work just fine, so on went Symphony no. 5, soon I was dancing round the kitchen - mixing, stirring, conducting, singing. It was wonderful! At that moment I wasn't into the exactitude of the execution of the performers - I was into the spirit and the energy of the different movements being played.

FOR THE MUSIC PURISTS: Use this to fill holes in your collection - it's so cheap, it's almost like stealing. There's so much here that you can't go wrong, even if some aren't perfectly executed.

FOR EVERYONE ELSE: Use this to build your collection. There are at least 8 other MP3 downloads like this one which would start the basis for a lovely classical music library. If you get to the point where a piece doesn't sound right, or bothers you in any way, go out and explore alternatives. There are tons out there. What I like, you may not, and vice versa. For example, the only people I like play Rachmaninoff are Rachmaninoff and Mischa Dikter. Yet, I'm told a lot of people play him well - I just don't agree. It's all personal taste. Take recommendations, but figure out what you like yourself.

At $1.99 each, that makes it under $18.00 to have 1800 tracks of 9 classical masters, ranging from Bach to Debussy. You can't even buy a family of 4 fastfood for that little. Or you could buy 18 tracks on i-tunes, not 1800. I can tell you, I did it, and it's been the soundtrack to the greater part of my life since I did so. It especially makes wonderful background music while reading anything from fiction to nonfiction - and of course making dinner. You can't beat this deal - just buy this! Buy all of them! Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Grieg, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Composer Compilation
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on March 24, 2013
The price for this collection is just rediculously cheap. I have all of the works in this collection on CD and by performers of my personal, discriminating choice. The reason that I bought this collection is for convenience. I thought that it would be nice to have the versatility and portability to be able to listen to music of my choosing while using my Kindel Fire as a reader and the cost of the collection is next to nothing. I enjoy very much being able to listen to these works in the background while reading. The performances are very satisfactory. I am amazed, jealous and very thankful that today people have such vast collections of the world's finest music available at dirt cheap prices. I have spent a life time searching and acquiring my music collection at significant expense (and nevermind the evolution from LP to Reel-to-Reel to CD)
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on April 15, 2013
These are not exactly "great performances" and like any music, it's the performer who elevates the music. These ARE competent performances of satisfactory quality and make for a great way to learn which pieces of a composer catch your fancy.

I would then suggest looking for stellar performances of your favorite pieces.

I have enjoyed learning more about each composer at a budget cost nevertheless, the few pieces in my existing music collection that I already loved, invariably compared favorably to those in these collections; were far superior in overall production quality (instruments more balanced, solo's more rich in range of sound -fuller more brilliant sound), and superior performance (there's a reason recordings are made around a performer who may excel at a specific instrument, genre or composer).
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on October 21, 2012
Disclaimer: I am neither an audiophile nor am I a classical music aficionado. That being said, as a layman I find this collection to be excellent. The performances are very good to excellent to my untrained ears and I can't find anything wrong with the sound quality. And you can't beat the sheer quantity of music for $1.99. It would be worth it for any one of the symphonies let alone the 100 tracks actually included. This is a must buy for the classical music beginner like myself. I have also purchased the Vivaldi and Grieg collections and recommend them equally strongly.
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on October 9, 2013
In general, I've been pleasantly surprised by the musical, artistic and sound quality of the "Rise of the Masters" download series.

Unfortunately, this Beethoven collection falls well short of the mark. I say that based on the limp and willingly undramatic renditions of the 9 Symphonies under the direction of Jansug Kakhidze. These recordings have appeared on numerous CD labels that tend to push HD sound or a budget price point, as opposed to artistic vision. Well, what good is HD sound if the performances lack any drama?

There are other strange choices in this set, like Freddy Kempff's version of the "Pathetique" Piano Sonata, which takes the first movement repeat all the way back to the Adagio beginning of the Sonata, rather to the double bar of the Allegro molto e con brio. Yes, his playing is quite good and energetic, even if his pedaling at the close of phrases can be inelegant, and one does hear a well-considered version of the sonata overall. But that repeat is discombobulating.

The price is right, but the performances are not.

Can't recommend this one higher than 2 stars.
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on April 16, 2012
My kindle provides an excellent medium for listening to music while reading. Beethoven's album provides a large amount of good listening for the price paid. The quality the the music is surprisingly good.
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on May 9, 2012
I'm very new to classical music of any kind so I thought these collections would be a great start. So far Beethoven is by far my favorite! My roommate thinks I'm crazy, but I've been solely listening to this album along with a number of the other Rise of the Masters albums for about two weeks now. Fantastic buy if you're looking to get a taste of this genre!
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