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Beethoven: The Symphonies Box set, Original recording remastered

26 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording remastered, November 21, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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Beyond argument, Claudio Abaddo's second Beethoven cycle puts his previous DG traversals of the nine symphonies in the shade. His Berlin Philharmonic musicians, for starters, play with more precision, fire, suppleness, and ensemble sophistication than the Vienna Philharmonic did for Abaddo's live 1980s DG cycle. More significant, Abaddo's interpretations turn nearly 180 degrees from a soft-grained, middle-of-the-road vantage point toward the fleet tempos and tart sonorities favored by such "historically informed" Beethovenians as Charles Mackerras, Nicholas Harnoncourt, and David Zinman. Like Zinman, Abaddo makes use of the much-discussed Barenreiter edition, featuring Jonathan Del Mar's textual revisions based on original sources. One might characterize Abaddo's remakes as the Zinman with better playing.

Symphonies One and Two are cases in point. Both are jam-packed with crisp, fleet articulation and pungent accents. In similar fashion, the Third symphony's radical classicism hits home in a lean, driving performance redolent of the like-minded Kleiber-Concertgebouw and digital Karajan-Berlin recordings of the Eroica. Clarity, however, is often sacrificed for speed in the Fourth. If Abbado's new Fifth lacks the elemental thrust and surging bass line distinguishing Carlos Kleiber's and Gunter Wand's powerful readings, one hears important lines that often get lost in the mix, such as the cellos' countermelody underneath the finale's second theme.

The remaining symphonies boast reams of prodigious, effortless orchestral execution, but they often fall short in dynamic thrust, dramatic momentum, and even humor when appropriate. The finale of the Seventh, for instance, goes too fast for the swirling music to really take shape, and ditto for the wacky last movement of the Eighth. Abaddo's excellent live Berlin Ninth on Sony is hardly superseded by the present lightweight, ill-balanced traversal, although Thomas Quasthoff's riveting declamation in the finale is gorgeous and meaningful. DG's excellent packaging includes an interview with the conductor and informative annotations. All told, an uneven cycle as a whole, but its finest moments easily stand among the best modern Beethoven symphony recordings. --Jed Distler


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 8:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 2. Andante cantabile con motoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 7:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 3. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 4:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21 - 4. Finale (Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 5:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado11:33Album Only
  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 2. LarghettoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 9:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 3. Scherzo (Allegro)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 4:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36 - 4. Allegro moltoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 6:08$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 1. Allegro con brioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado16:06Album Only
  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado14:17Album Only
  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 5:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 4. Finale (Allegro molto)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado10:24Album Only
  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 1. Adagio - Allegro vivaceBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado11:08Album Only
  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 2. AdagioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 9:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 3. Allegro vivaceBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 5:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60 - 4. Allegro ma non troppoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 6:42$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 3:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 1. Allegro con brioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 7:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 2. Andante con motoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 9:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 3. AllegroBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 7:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67 - 4. AllegroBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado10:41Album Only
  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 1. Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande: Allegro ma non troppoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado11:18Album Only
  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 2. Szene am Bach: (Andante molto mosso)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado11:05Album Only
  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 3. Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute (Allegro)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 4:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 4. Gewitter, Sturm (Allegro)Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 3:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 -"Pastoral" - 5. Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare Gefühle nach dem Sturm: AllegrettoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 8:26$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 4:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 1. Poco sostenuto - VivaceBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado13:23Album Only
  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 2. AllegrettoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 7:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 3. Presto - Assai meno prestoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 8:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 4. Allegro con brioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 8:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 In F, Op.93 - 1. Allegro vivace e con brioBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 8:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 In F, Op.93 - 2. Allegretto scherzandoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 3:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 In F, Op.93 - 3. Tempo di menuettoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 5:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Symphony No.8 In F, Op.93 - 4. Allegro vivaceBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 6:57$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 5:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestosoBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado14:22Album Only
  2. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 2. Molto vivaceBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado13:03Album Only
  3. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 3. Adagio molto e cantabileBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado12:49Album Only
  4. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. Presto - Allegro assaiBerliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado 5:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. Presto - "O Freunde nicht diese Töne" -Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado and Eric Ericson Chamber Choir and Karita Mattila and Swedish Radio Choir and Thomas Moser and Thomas Quasthoff and Violeta Urmana16:29Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: Swedish Radio Choir, Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (November 21, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • 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: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00004YZ33
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,777 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Hrvatin on December 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD
If ever there was a doubt over Abbado's ability over ten years to clear the cobwebs created by Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic then this is it. Whilst many people might greet this cycle with a cry of "ANOTHER Beethoven cycle???" they do it at their peril. Using the critically acclaimed new editions prepared by Jonathan Del Mar, Abbado puts together a cycle of rare insight and vision. Unlike John Eliot Gardiner who sacrifices beauty for speed, Abbado in this cycle not only adopts a faster approach to many of the symphonies than Karajan but still manages to pay as much attention to detail to the articulation and phrasing required in such complex works, with astoundingly clear results. At all times the Berliners deliver clear and highly skilled (would we expect anything less??) playing, responding well to Abbado's direction. Highlights are the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th symphonies, the latter receiving one of the freshest and most astounding performances in years. Take a chance and buy this set, it worth every cent and you will playing it for years to come. And not an original instrument in sight either.....
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Daniel D. Kim on December 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
These are, as other people wrote, not ordinary Beethoven symphony recordings. There are many many recordings, but this set is superior to many. The score used for the recording is the newest version which I think is very accurate. If you know the symphonies well, you will find them different. There is a slight shift of the focus of the tone in this version because of the new edition. The overall impression is very fresh and clean. Compared to highly acclaimed Karajan's recordings of the 70's, there seems to be brighter and clean in the sounds in this one. Karajan's recordings have oil-painting like qualities. The sound is very thick and dark. The resulting sound is thoroughly modern. Abbado's recordings have water-colour painting like qualities. This was achieved in part by reducing the size of the orchestra. He is more classical in his approach.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on December 28, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is a great cycle of Beethoven symphonies. It could be a new definitive cycle due to Claudio Abbado's virtually faithful adherence to the new Jonathan Del Mar-edited scores and the Berlin Philharmonic's warm, crisp playing that is more reminiscent of a chamber orchestra than a major symphony orchestra. This is undoubtedly due to Abbado's decision to use a smaller orchestra, in an effort to create music more evocative of the early 19th Century without using original instruments. Sure, there are a couple of glaring flaws, most notably the excessive speed through which Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic rush through the finale of the 7th Symphony. I concurr with Amazon's reviewer in his comparison of Abbado's and the Berlin Philharmonic's two recordings of the 9th symphony; the earlier Sony version is a bit more electrifying than the one for Deutsche Grammophon. Yet there is much to be admired in this new cycle, starting with what is unquestionably the best recorded - and performed - digital version of the 3rd Symphony. The employees at my favorite used CD store in New York City speak highly of this cycle; after hearing it in its entirety, I join them in their lavish praise.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Steven O. Hemenway on September 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
As Abbado writes in the liner notes of this set he is guided by the new critical edition of Beethoven's symphonies by Jonathan Del Mar, which he apparently follows quite closely, but which apparently allows some freedom of choice. According to Abbado he does depart from Del Mar's printed score in a few places. It seems that this in addition to the use of a modern orchestra makes these performances somewhat of a balance between authentic period and modern. However, they are closer in spirit, definitely in tempo and leanness of texture to period performance.
All of the playing is very "fleet of foot" and technically precise with perfect ensemble with the possible exception of the final movement of no.7 in which they almost seem to lose control and can't quite maintain
tempo because to put it bluntly it is almost ludicrously fast. Otherwise no. 7 is almost dead on. Symphony no.8 is Beethoven's funniest; none the less Abbado chooses a tempo for its final movement which is which is simply wacky.
Symphony no.9 is exceptionally well played and generally satisfying but a little too light weight. It is not a very lofty or spiritual performance
but it is very human one. Many conductors have emphasized the lofty aspects of this great work to the point of its detriment making it somewhat heavy and draggy. But Abbado probably goes too far away from that. It is a very human work by a very eccentric, human person but it aspires to the best in humanity. This performance could have benefited greatly from more of a sense of aspiration and perhaps some slightly slower tempos movements 2-4. But the final bars are not to be missed. They are taken at such a breakneck tempo without missing a beat or note
while retaining most of the drama; simply astonishing.
Symphonies nos.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Barry Katz on December 4, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I purchased this set one week after having been priveledged to see Abbado and the Berliners perform Beethoven's 5th, 6th, and 7th at Carnegie Hall on two consecutive nights. The playing I heard those evenings was astounding - I don't think I've ever heard an orchestra remotely as good. The musicians played with utter committment and passion, from the concertmaster to the last music stand of the second violins - it took my breath away. Each of the string sections played so precisely together, it produced an intensely focused sound - which I found remarkable, especially in the lower strings - the cellos, and even double basses, where you don't frequently hear such nimble, tight playing - in other orchestras, anyway. And when was the last time you noticed exactly what the violas were doing? There was nothing these musicians could not do. At any dynamic,from a triple pianissimo to a tripple fore, and at any tempo, each note sounded with precise ensemble - whole massive runs of 32nd notes at some breakneck tempos, all executed with precise ensemble, clarity, and all of it beautifully phrased. And don't get me started on the beautiful solo playing by various members of the orchestra. All I can say is, "Lovely, lovely, lovely."
Abbado produced a sound that was both powerful yet supple and transparent.Inner voices were allowed to shine through. This listener had the impression of having heard something quite fresh and new. He balanced gossamer-thin pianissimos against playing that was rhthymically intense and driving. At the climax of the 7th I found myself actually proprelled out of my seat - literally knocked off my chair.
These new Deutche Grammophon recordings beautifully capture all that I heard live in New York on a night I won't soon forget.
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