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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 Abaddo's excellent live Berlin Ninth on Sony is hardly superseded by the present lightweight, ill-balanced traversal, although Thomas Quasthoff's riveting declamation in the finale is gorgeous and meaningful.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
I've had this symphony cycle in my collection for quite a while now. While the recordings obviously are not bad, I personally have not found any of them especially insightful. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Christopher Ammons
Wow! Just Wow! I am so happy with this purchase. This is the first complete set of Beethoven symphonies I've bought since I purchased the complete symphonies by Fritz Reiner and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Robert M. Burns
Best audio quality. Love the Berlin philharmonic. Abbado makes the music beautiful and lively.Published 13 months ago by Dean Chia
From the way some of the more critical reviews describe this, you'd think it was Mickey Mouse conducting the Disney World orchestra. Read morePublished 17 months ago by J. Christmas
Other reviewers have expressed their opinions of this collection of Claudio Abbado's recordings of Beethoven's symphonies, recorded in 2000, actually in mostly positive reviews... Read morePublished on April 15, 2013 by Phil in Mågnoliá
Origen is one of the few Church Fathers who was not lumbered with sainthood. There are three reasons for this. Read morePublished on November 24, 2011 by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon
With regards to recordings, there are basically four types of listening experiences. There are recorded performances that, upon first hearing, become instant favorites, and remain... Read morePublished on December 31, 2010 by Prescott Cunningham Moore
This Beethoven cycle has been heavily criticized for its rather distant sound quality, yet from a musical standpoint it is quite good overall, with a few reservations. Read morePublished on November 12, 2010 by Joseph M. Perorazio
I've purchased Cd's before, based on someone's recomendations, and have often been disappointed. This was not the case with this edition of all 9 Beethoven Symphonies. Read morePublished on October 28, 2009 by Lew Miller