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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25 reviews
on December 20, 2014
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 the Chicago something like 30-35 years ago (maybe even earlier, since the years all run together at my advanced age!) in LP form, which is where I got my initial exposure to them all.

Claudio Abbado is a favorite of mine, and I've always enjoyed listening to music he conducted when had the Lucerne. I kind of took a chance in that I don't think I'd ever hear him conduct Beethoven. But I've head plenty of his Mahler readings, and that was impetus enough to go forward with this purchase. Since buying them, I've compared these recording with my LPs of Reiner and even a version of the 6th with von Karajan and the BPO which I have. Abbado delivers, and in full measure.

Production values are great, and the Berlin, of course, is, well, the Berlin: big, powerful, rangy, dynamic control in every way possible. Buy without trepidation. This set is a monument to a very gifted conductor.
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on December 19, 2015
I have always admired the conductor, Claudio Abbado. However, this Beethoven cycle is substandard ------ to say the least. The fourth movement of the seventh symphony is taken at a ridiculously fast tempo. Und, so weiter. Too bad, as I had always admired Abbado.
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on November 12, 2010
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.

Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic manage to blend the transparency and fleetness of a period-instrument orchestra with the opulence and power of a modern large orchestra through the use of quick tempos and reduced orchestra size. Overall the experiment works (certainly more successfully than Simon Rattle's rather appalling Vienna set, where that legendary orchestra was robbed of its lush sound), and throughout the cycle we are reminded just how virtuosic and splendid the Berlin Philharmonic is. Only in a few moments here and there is it evident that perhaps the tempos are too quick to allow clear execution (the finale of the 7th in particular), and there are moments when one wishes for a more traditional musical approach, as Abbado gave us so wonderfully in his 1980s Vienna cycle (which is hard to find but very much worth the effort). This newer Beethoven is aggressive, muscular, and confident, although perhaps too efficient and clinical at times.

The sound quality has been an issue for many listeners. This cycle was unusual for Deutsche Grammophon because it was designed to be played on very high-end audio equipment, which most people don't own. Without the benefit of such equipment (which would resolve the space in the recordings and would allow for a true concert hall experience), the sound can be muddy and distant. One wonders why DG took such an approach, when they have never been known as an audiophile label.

The symphonies are presented in numerical order, and the set is lavishly packaged with excellent liner notes and a distinctive pastel color scheme for the CD digipaks. In an age of downloadable MP3's , such packaging may seem quaint, but it suits the music and Abbado's fresh approach. Definitely a cycle worth owning, as it represents a fading era of vanity Beethoven cycles and elaborate CD sets.
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on December 18, 2001
abbado's cycle brings the "original instruments" movement into the symphonic mainstream. leading a very traditional orchestra made vigorous by many new, younger players, paring the forces to a smaller ensemble, and following in most respects the best recent "critical" edition of beethoven, abbado successfully makes the faster tempi, lighter textures and original bowing sound like, well, like the way beethoven was always meant to be played.
what struck me immediately was the incredible ensemble, which comes through both in the clarity of very fast passagework (every note perfectly distinct) and in the remarkably sure phrasing, even in the inner voices, no matter what the tempo or dynamics. the recording is exceptionally crisp, which also creates a wonderful transparency: no matter how raucous or pianissimo things get, every note comes through. abbado's schubert recordings with the chamber orchestra of europe (the ensemble harnoncourt used for his beethoven cycle) surely started him thinking in this direction.
abbado eliminates most of the rhetorical flourishes typical of earlier beethoven practice, but he does not slavishly follow the new edition or go for the "tick tock" authentic sound. furtwangler is his conducting idol, and his goal is above all to make compelling music. the fire and joy in the recordings seems to demonstrate a great rapport between conductor and crew; everyone clearly had a great time playing these works.
the booklet contains a meager essay by beethoven scholar joseph kerman, but an unexpectedly funny interview with abbado on performance practice. over several pages he takes every opportunity the interviewer offers to spurn the vienna philharmonic -- old men, 19th century practice, "we've always played it that way" attitude, don't hire women, soft sound, etc. -- and this recording seems to be a declaration that performance styles have changed for good. i love my old bohm recordings with the vienna po, but on the main point abbado is surely right: this is a beethoven cycle that the present vienna philharmonic could never, and would never, emulate.
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on July 26, 2014
Best audio quality. Love the Berlin philharmonic. Abbado makes the music beautiful and lively.
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on October 28, 2009
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. I just finished listening to all nine and have heard passages and instruments that I've never heard before. Not only are the tempos spirited, but the interpretations are very exciting. Finally, the recording quality is superior with a balance and clarity that is remarkable. You get the idea...I like this very very much and I think you will too.
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