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Thread: Best Beethoven symphonies

  1. #121
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Time to be totally open:

    Symphony No.1 is just a Mozart-Haydnesque study with few personal touches, much like the first two piano concertos.

    Symphony No.2 also. The Scherzo, however, is memorable.đ

    ...the first two being largely forgettable, we proceed...

    Symphony No.3 is powerful, masculine, exciting. Very influential and groundbreaking. The work is patchy, however, and the Finale, even though very emotional, is not of the same (quite high) quality as the other movements.

    Symphony No.4 is very refined and gentle. It is also quite pallid.

    Symphony No.5 is a remarkable tour-de-force, the most compact and perfect of them all. It is overplayed, though, to the point of prostitution.

    Symphony No.6 is generally very boring. There are beautiful and colourful moments (Pletnev conducts it excellently), but I start yawning halfway through.

    Symphony No.7 is rhythmic and interesting. All movements yield their special charms. Unbalanced it is, however, because the fast tempi prevail greatly.

    Symphony No.8 is fun. But it is a divertimento.

    Symphony No.9 is the greatest and as all-embracing as Mahler. The message of the work is also sublime - hard to keep the tears from flowing in the Finale, or in the Adagio too. However, the Scherzo fails to keep my attention throughout, and the Finale is just a bit too long. The 'Turkish' variation is a bit ridiculous, it is.

    1. 5th
    2. 7th
    3. 9th
    4. 3rd
    5. 8th
    6. 4th
    7. 6th
    8. 2nd
    9. 1st

    The positions nos. 7 and 9 are interchangeable. And definitely the even numbers pale next to the odd ones.
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

  2. #122
    Senior Member wolf's Avatar
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    1. 3rd
    2. 9th
    3. 6th
    4. 8th
    5. 7th
    6. 4th
    7. 2nd
    8. 5th
    9. 1st

    5th is downright hysteric in the last mvt, boring in the 3rd mvt, not too fun with 1st mvt having heard it a mill times.

    9th is breathtaking in the beginning but long parts are too busily instrumntated.

    7th 1mvt is superb but not the 2nd -although the ordinarys like it. And it gets tedious.

    6th is good from start to finish with not one weak link. Mvt for mvt its getting better.

    8th is shamefully neglected, listen to it, who cares if it is a lighter world in it?

    3rd isnt too good in the last 2 mvts - but mvt 1 and mvt 2 are enough. The Eroica rules and wins anyway.

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  4. #123
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    1st is a lovely straightforward piece. The first two mvts have stuck in my memory the most, but like it all of course.

    2nd I like less though it has some exciting things, particularly in the first two mvts of it which are fine.

    3rd First movement is gigantic and powerful and the slow movement has great drama and feeling.

    4th I might have heard this the fewest times out of all of them so hard to give comments with my memory of it. The slow intro to the first movement is probably my main memory of it though, mysterious. The use of percussion in the slow movement I remember too.

    5th I remember growing to love the triumphant finale in the past and the great transition to it. The first movement of course is rightly famed.

    6th This grew to be my favourite. So untypical for him as without the heroic gestures really but somehow that makes it even more personal. Largely perfect piece, with a satisfying finale.

    7th Nice big piece, another memorable slow intro. The last mvt of course is incredible.

    8th The first mvt I remember liking the most really, the development, recap and coda eg.

    9th The first mvt of this I've loved. Which is the better - this first mvt or that of the 3rd? Both are gigantic and epic. Really that has always been my favourite part, but the last mvt I've always tended to like the least.

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  6. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurkikohtaus View Post
    Too much emphasis is placed on this evolutionary concept in music, that something new = something good, that this-leads-to-that-leads-to-this.
    This is so true! Just judge the music on its own merit and not where some musicologist wants to put it in the history of music.

  7. #125
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    Why there is no love for Eroica's finale? It has beautiful themes and brilliant uplifting conclusion.

    Eroica is clearly my favorite - I would say its not only my favorite Beethoven symphony but my favorite symphony in general. I think it's actually less "heroic" than say fifth; compared to it it is more wistful and thoughtful, though it has intense and energetic moments too.

    Fifth is instantly appealing but I think I'm bored of it already even though I have listened to Eroica much more. Seventh is fun though perhaps a bit trivial compared to his third, fifth or ninth. Sixth just bores me. I really like first movement of the ninth, it has cool anticipating, "doomsday" feeling, scherzo is ok, the slow movement is a bit boring. I have problems with the fourth movement because like many people I don't like classical solo vocals, they sound corny and annoying. The choral singing is fine though. I haven't listened very much his other symphonies.
    Last edited by Dim7; Jun-14-2009 at 00:40.

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  9. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cmaj7 View Post
    Why there is no love for Eroica's finale? It has beautiful themes and brilliant uplifting conclusion.

    Eroica is clearly my favorite - I would say its not only my favorite Beethoven symphony but my favorite symphony in general. I think it's actually less "heroic" than say fifth; compared to it it is more wistful and thoughtful, though it has intense and energetic moments too.

    Fifth is instantly appealing but I think I'm bored of it already even though I have listened to Eroica much more. Seventh is fun though perhaps a bit trivial compared to his third, fifth or ninth. Sixth just bores me. I really like first movement of the ninth, it has cool anticipating, "doomsday" feeling, scherzo is ok, the slow movement is a bit boring. I have problems with the fourth movement because like many people I don't like classical solo vocals, they sound corny and annoying. The choral singing is fine though. I haven't listened very much his other symphonies.
    For me the most consistently enjoyable Beethoven symphonies are probably 1,3,5,6. The last movement of the third has some spine tingling moments for sure. Maybe the main theme is a bit on the light side though, this might be highlighted even more because it follows a scherzo. I don't really understand anyone who says the 6th is boring, except perhaps they heard a performance that was too slow and lugubrious and without the freshness it deserves.

  10. #127
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    Well I don't think it's the performers fault that I don't like the sixth - the word "pastoral" translates to "boring" usually anyways.

    The only movement that is a bit mediocre in Eroica is in my opinion the scherzo. Now that I think of it none of the Beethoven's scherzos are too spectacular.... but then again I'm not big fan of scherzos in general. The slow movement is Beethoven's best one, though 5th has a gorgeous slow movement too.
    The only problem with the finale IMO is the too abrupt shift from the hopeless quiet minor moment to the triumphant end. Fast shift would be okay, but there should be somekind of glue there at least; like quiet major, perhaps dominant chords gradually but fast getting louder.
    Last edited by Dim7; Jun-21-2009 at 13:15.

  11. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cmaj7 View Post
    Well I don't think it's the performers fault that I don't like the sixth - the word "pastoral" translates to "boring" usually anyways.

    The only movement that is a bit mediocre in Eroica is in my opinion the scherzo. Now that I think of it none of the Beethoven's scherzos are too spectacular.... but then again I'm not big fan of scherzos in general. The slow movement is Beethoven's best one, though 5th has a gorgeous slow movement too.
    The only problem with the finale IMO is the too abrupt shift from the hopeless quiet minor moment to the triumphant end. Fast shift would be okay, but there should be somekind of glue there at least; like quiet major, perhaps dominant chords gradually but fast getting louder.
    I remember someone saying about Beethoven (not here) that he doesn't always use glue (as you call it) unlike Mozart. The end of the Eroica may contain some bluster, but it's up to the performer to make it convincing. The third movement could be accused of being the least substantial but only because it's the shortest, I like the contrast to the slow movement and it seems to succeed pretty much in what it does. The third movement of the seventh though is probably the weakest part of that symphony for me, the material maybe isn't as interesting as in the rest of the piece.

    I think to say anything 'pastoral' is nearly always boring is far too sweeping a statement. Nature itself after all is part of what we are. And the very lyricism of that piece makes it personal. I like Toscanini and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, though the sound is old.

  12. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cmaj7 View Post
    Well I don't think it's the performers fault that I don't like the sixth - the word "pastoral" translates to "boring" usually anyways.


    This is such an absurd statement. Yeah, Beethoven's "Pastoral" symphony is boring. I'm sure Beethoven when writing this symphony thought "Okay, now to compose something boring."

    Such an ill-informed statement if I've ever read one.

  13. #130
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    Haha, I didn't literally mean that composers who decide to compose a "pastoral" work think "this is supposed to be boring music", that would make absolutely no sense, I meant that if a musical piece is described as "pastoral" it probably means that it is boring to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cmaj7 View Post
    Haha, I didn't literally mean that composers who decide to compose a "pastoral" work think "this is supposed to be boring music", that would make absolutely no sense, I meant that if a musical piece is described as "pastoral" it probably means that it is boring to me.
    I think you missed my joke, but that's okay, because you're wrong anyway.

    People who describe something as "boring" means that they can't appreciate what it takes to enjoy a piece that's more intricate and thought-provoking. Something doesn't have to go 900 mph to be good.

  15. #132
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    Default 7th is not trivial

    hello,
    Just couldn't ignore some comment that the 7th was "trivial". I think it is one of the emotionally monumental symphonies, it just needs a bit of deeper listening.
    And please why can't anyone take the 3rd out of context of Bonaparte......he is not part of it. Can't we just appreciate the music for its own merits?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image View Post
    I think you missed my joke, but that's okay, because you're wrong anyway.

    People who describe something as "boring" means that they can't appreciate what it takes to enjoy a piece that's more intricate and thought-provoking. Something doesn't have to go 900 mph to be good.
    Eroica's second movement doesn't "go 900 mph" and I just mentioned liking it. Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht doesn't "go 900 mph" and it's one of my favorite classical pieces. It is true that I usually prefer faster movements to slower ones but I do realize that there is more good music than just the loud-and-fast stuff, and I like slow movements more than scherzos with often sound out of place in otherwise "serious" symphony.

    And if you did realize that I was just expressing my opinion, then what sense does it make to call it "ill-informed"? How can anyone have "ill-informed" opinions?
    Last edited by Dim7; Jun-22-2009 at 21:26.

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    Quote Originally Posted by terotero View Post
    hello,
    Just couldn't ignore some comment that the 7th was "trivial". I think it is one of the emotionally monumental symphonies, it just needs a bit of deeper listening.
    And please why can't anyone take the 3rd out of context of Bonaparte......he is not part of it. Can't we just appreciate the music for its own merits?
    "Trivial" (though it was COMPARED to 3,5,9) was a bad choice of word, "lighthearted" would be better. I do think it kinda lacks the depth and epic feeling of symphonies 3,5,9; it seems to be mostly based on catchy melodies. The lightheartedness has the advantage that it is easy to like on the first listening but the disadvantage is that on relistens I at least don't really find anything new from the symphony, something I'd have missed on the first time.

  18. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cmaj7 View Post
    And if you did realize that I was just expressing my opinion, then what sense does it make to call it "ill-informed"? How can anyone have "ill-informed" opinions?
    Everyone has a right to an opinion, it's just that you didn't give much reasoning behind it. The 6th symphony is boring compared to what? Is it all equally boring or did you like some part? Which performances have you heard? Why do you judge all pieces labeled 'pastoral' together? I also found your comments on scherzos a bit general as well. If you like livelier music maybe you would prefer scherzos to minuets? And one movement of a piece is meant to fit into the overall flow of the piece not just looked at on it's own. A scherzo is probably more 'modern' (or fashionable) in it's sound to people than a minuet, some of this is about adjusting to the style of a particular period of music anyway.

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