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Thread: Which Beethoven cycle(s) do YOU own?

  1. #91
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by premont View Post
    There are rather many quality Beethoven symphony sets, so just collecting quality may result in a large collection.
    Tel me about it!

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  3. #92
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Terror View Post
    Quite a few. I rather enjoy this one:

    I bought this but find it sounds too rushed. Whatever Beethoven's metronome markings, at those speeds it sounds far too rushed in spite of the magnificent playing

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by premont View Post
    I think the distinction here depends upon which cycles we are talking about.
    The distinction of connoisseur vs Philistine.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
    --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

  5. #94
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Well, I've been listening to classical music for many years.
    This is what I have.

    Bernstein (both)
    Szell
    Walter
    Klemperer Bohm
    Karajan (all 3 DGG cycles)
    Norrington EMI
    Cluytens
    Konwitschny
    Abbado (earlier Vienna cycle
    I'll probably be getting the Barenboim because of the great sound.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

  6. #95
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    Over the decades, I've collected more Beethoven cycles than the ones listed below, but these are the sets that I still listen to, followed by the specific symphony recordings that I've most treasured from them:

    A. Modern instruments:

    1. Eugen Jochum--Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian R.S.O., DG (mono)
    2. Eugen Jochum--Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philips--excellent "Eroica" 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th
    3. Eugen Jochum--London Symphony Orchestra, EMI--one of the great 5ths on record, excellent in the 4th, 7th, 8th, & 9th. Superbly remastered by EMI in the Jochum Icon box set. A top cycle, in my view.
    4. Rafael Kubelik--various orchestras, DG--a great Concertgebouw 2nd (though Kubelik's Audite 2nd may be even better, it's a close call), excellent 4th (again on both DG & Audite).
    5. Bernard Haitink--Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philips--one of the great 5ths on record, excellent 2nd & 9th. However, my favorite Haitink 9th is his 1980 live performance from the Concertgebouw (on Philips)--it's one of the best, despite some variable singing from the soprano in the 4th movement.
    6. Kurt Masur--Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Phiiips 1--one of the great 4ths on record, & excellent 1, 2, & 3. This is an underrated cycle, in my view, but it's restrained 'classical' approach may not be to all tastes.
    7. Kurt Masur--Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Philips 2--one of the best 2nds on record, & another great 4th from Masur (even if I slightly prefer his earlier 4th). I also prefer Masur's excellent live 9th in Leipzig on Berlin Classics to either of his studio 9ths. (Masur's Berlin Classics Missa Solemnis, and Eurodisc Fidelio are wonderful too. He was an erratic conductor, in my estimation, but when he was good, he was very good to great.)
    8. Herbert Blomstedt--Staatskapelle Dresden, Berlin Classics--excellent 5th, and one of the great 9ths on record (the Berlin Classics 9th is from 1985, however, there is also a live 1980 Blomstedt Dresden 9th that is just as fine, but maybe not in quite as good sound). Otherwise, it's not a favorite cycle, despite that it was made with my favorite orchestra in the world.
    9. Wilhelm Furtwangler--Vienna Philharmonic, Bayeuth Festival Orchestra, Stockholm Philharmonic, EMI--one of the great 5ths, good 6th & 8th, but I prefer other Furtwangler 9ths--such as the actual live Bayreuth performance on Orfeo--to Furtwangler's famous EMI recording from his EMI cycle: which was recorded during the Bayreuth dress rehearsal.
    10. Claudio Abbado--Vienna Philharmonic, DG--good 4th, 6th.
    11. Bruno Walter--Columbia S.O., Columbia/Sony--good 4th, 6th.

    B. HIP on modern instruments:

    1. John Nelson--Orchestre Ensemble de Paris, Ambrosie--one of the great 8ths on record, excellent in 1 & 2, and a good 6. Weak, disappointing 4th movement of the 9th, which starts out great, but falls flat in the end.
    2. Nikolaus Harnoncourt--Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Teldec--one of the great 2nds on record (& my personal favorite), excellent 6th & 7th, & a good 3rd. Overall, a terrific cycle, but it has a weak 4th & 5th, and only an average 9th.
    3. Sir Charles Mackerras--Scottish National Orchestra, Hyperion--excellent 5th.
    4. Giovanni Antonini--Kammerorchester Basel, Sony (actually I haven't heard his 9th yet)--good 1, 4.
    5. Riccardo Chailly--Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Philips--excellent, first rate "Eroica" 3rd (if a bit relentlessly driven), & a very good 7th, with a poorly conducted 5th & 6th, and a mildly disappointing 9th. Great orchestra though.
    6. Bernard Haitink--London Symphony Orchestra, LSO Live--excellent 6th, good 9th.

    C. Period instruments:

    1. Christopher Hogwood--Academy of Ancient Music L'Oiseau Lyre--one of the best 1sts on record, excellent 2, 4, 7.
    2. Jos van Immerseel--Anima Eterna Orchestra, Zig-Zag--one of the great 7ths on record (& my personal favorite), excellent 8th.
    3. Roger Norrington--London Classical Players, EMI--good 1, 2, 4, 7. I like how Norrington lets the brass and drums play.
    4. Frans Bruggen--Orchestra of the 18th Century, Philips (studio)--excellent 1 & 2, good 3, 6, & 7.
    5. John Eliot Gardiner--Orchestre de Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Archiv--excellent in the 7th & 9th.

    D. I'm still collecting the following individually, or planning to buy the cycles based on You Tube listening--

    1. Felix Weingartner--various orchestras, Naxos--excellent 4th.
    2. Paul Kletzki--Czech Philharmonic, Supraphon--one of the great 4ths on record.
    3. Herman Scherchen--Vienna State Orchestra, 1958, Decca--one of the greatest "Eroica" 3rds ever recorded--from the first conductor to take Beethoven's metronome markings seriously. I'd consider Scherchen to be a very underrated Beethoven conductor, from what I've heard so far.
    4. William Steinberg--Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra--excellent 4th, good 7th.
    5. Leonard Bernstein--New York Philharmonic, Sony--one of the best "Eroica" 3rds I've heard (a symphony that trips up most conductors). I prefer it to Bernstein's later Vienna 3rd.
    6. Rene Leibowitz, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra--a good "Eroica" 3rd. After Scherchen, Leibowitz was the next conductor to take Beethoven's metronome markings to heart. However, sometimes I dislike his orchestral balances, especially in the 6th, where he drowns out the chirping birds in the 1st movement--a serious mistake, in my view.

    E. Incomplete cycles & various individual recordings that I highly value:

    --Paul van Kempen, Berlin Philharmonic--one of the great "Eroica" 3rds & 7ths on record. A very underrated Beethoven conductor.
    --Igor Markevitch Orchestre Des Concerts Lamoureux, Philips--one of the great 8ths on record, though unfortunately Markevitch didn't have one of the best orchestras to work with. Nevertheless, he was a very fine Beethoven conductor.
    --Fritz Reiner Chicago S.O.--one of the great 6ths on record, excellent Eroica, 4th, & 9th.
    --George Szell Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philips--a great 5th. IMO, Szell was a different conductor when he got out of Cleveland.
    --Erich Kleiber, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Decca--another great 5th--& better than his son in every Beethoven symphony that he conducted.
    --Nikolaus Harnoncourt--Concentus Musicus Wien, Teldec--the 4th & 5th symphonies were duds in Harnoncourt's earlier COE cycle, but towards the end of his life he had another go at them, with his long time period orchestra, & this time the results were better.
    --Rafael Kubelik--Bavarian Radio S.O. Audite--excellent 2, 4
    --Ferenc Fricsay--Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian State Orchestra DG--one of the great 9ths on record.
    --Pablo Casals--Marlboro Festival Orchestra Sony--excellent in the 4th, 6th, & 7th--I particularly like the 'Pastorale' 6th that Casals recorded in the Vermont countryside.
    --Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt--Vienna Philharmonic, Decca--he has arguably the best quartet of singers on record in the 9th, but otherwise it isn't one of my favorite cycles.
    --Kurt Masur--New York Philharmonic, Teldec--one of the great 5ths on record.
    --Arturo Toscanini--two excellent, riveting Eroicas.
    --Evgeny Mravinsky--Lennigrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Erato--a great 6th (I intend to explore Mravinsky's Beethoven more thoroughly, as it's a recent discovery, & he had a great orchestra).
    --Serge Koussevitsky--BSO--a fascinating "Eroica", as he holds the "death note" in the 3rd movement even longer than Furtwangler. The period conductors don't know it's there.
    --Lovro von Matacic--Czech Philharmonic, NHK S.O. Denon/Supraphon--an excellent 3rd.
    --Eduard von Beinum--Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra Philips, BBC, Eloquence--a great 2nd, excellent Eroica.
    --Daniel Grossmann--Ensemble 28--an excellent period "Eroica" 3rd, that seeks to replicate the premiere performance conducted by Beethoven, in the actual venue where the Eroica was first performed. It's definitely worth hearing (& is on You Tube).

    Many of the above recommended recordings can be heard for free on You Tube.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Dec-13-2018 at 10:33.

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  8. #96
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Totally with you about Scherchen (I love his pacing, phrasing and messing with tempos, Josquin13) and Markevitch and Lamoreux recorded a fantastic 5th and 8th (a desert island disc of mine). I'm not a great fan of either of Masur's cycles but they're OK. His second attempt at the 8th is really good though. Glad you mentioned Steinberg too. Another excellent cycle and with the Mahler arrangement of the 9th.

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  10. #97
    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Seventies' Karajan on DG. No inclination to explore others.
    I treat my music like I treat my pets. It’s something to own, care about and curate with attention to detail. From a blog by hjr.

  11. #98
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    I have the Chailly, Karajan, Solti, Gardiner and Barenboim. After getting Harnoncourt’s Schubert Cycle this weekend and being totally bowled over by it, I decided to get his Beethoven Cycle. I’ve listened to the 3rd, 5th, and my favorite the 6th. Much to enjoy so far, even though the 1st mov’t of the 6th is a tad slow for my tastes, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

    Gardiner is, and will always be, my favorite.
    Chailly is pretty darn good. Glorious playing and I like the tempos.
    Karajan is ok. I’ve always been underwhelmed here. Maybe because his tempo in the 1st mov’t of the 6th is so fast.
    Solti is quite great. Underrated IMO.
    Barenboim is a total snoozer. I never listen to it.
    Last edited by gellio; Jan-03-2019 at 02:39.

  12. #99
    Senior Member jim prideaux's Avatar
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    Gardiner
    Barenboim
    Harnoncourt
    Maag
    van Immerseel

    access to Kletzki on 'hard drive'
    'so where are the strong, who are the trusted and where is the harmony, sweet harmony?'
    (Nick Lowe)

  13. #100
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gellio View Post
    I have the Chailly, Karajan, Solti, Gardiner and Barenboim. After getting Harnoncourt’s Schubert Cycle this weekend and being totally bowled over by it, I decided to get his Beethoven Cycle. I’ve listened to the 3rd, 5th, and my favorite the 6th. Much to enjoy so far, even though the 1st mov’t of the 6th is a tad slow for my tastes, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

    Gardiner is, and will always be, my favorite.
    Chailly is pretty darn good. Glorious playing and I like the tempos.
    Karajan is ok. I’ve always been underwhelmed here. Maybe because his tempo in the 1st mov’t of the 6th is so fast.
    Solti is quite great. Underrated IMO.
    Barenboim is a total snoozer. I never listen to it.
    I can't see how you can like the tempi in the Chaiily performances (all of which seem to me too fast) while saying that Karajan is too fast in the first movement of the pastoral.

  14. #101
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    I have 36 complete cycles.
    Osmo Vänskä: Minnesota Orchestra
    Multi Philadelphia Orchestra
    Klemperer: Philarmonia Orchestra
    Munch: Boston Symphony
    Dohnányi Cleveland Orchestra
    Szell: Cleveland Orchestra
    Rattle: Vienna
    Toscanini: 1939 NBC Symphony Orchestra
    Norrington: London Players
    Hogwood: Academy of Ancient Music
    Brüggen: Orchestra of the 18th century (1st)
    Jarvi: Deutsches Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
    Blomstedt: Staatskapelle Dresden
    Cluytens: Berlin Philarmonic
    Furtwängler: a couple different orchestras
    Jochum: London Symphony
    Abbado: Vienna
    Skrowaczewski: Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern
    Weller: City of Birmingham Orchestra
    Monteux: cycle has 3 orchestras
    Gardiner: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
    Wand: NDR-Sinfonieorchester
    Bernstein: New York Philharmonic
    Zinman: Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich
    Karajan: 60' and 70's
    Kegel Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
    Walter Columbia Symphony
    Morris: Londony Symphony
    Leibowitz: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Haitink: London Symphony
    Ferencsik: Hungarian State Orchestra
    Konwitschny: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
    Weil: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
    Last edited by Johnnie Burgess; Jan-06-2019 at 04:04.
    "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." Thomas Jefferson

    “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government.” – Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

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  16. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by realdealblues View Post
    From memory I have owned 76 Beethoven Symphony Cycles.

    Beethoven Symphony Cycles I still own on CD (28):

    Ansermet
    Barenboim (I)
    Bernstein (I & II)
    Blomstedt
    Bohm
    Chailly
    Cluytens
    Furtwangler
    Jochum (I, II & III)
    Karajan (I, II, III, & IV)
    Kegel
    Kempe
    Klemperer
    Kletzki
    Kubelik
    Monteux
    Sawallisch
    Szell
    Toscanini (I & II)
    Walter
    Wand

    Beethoven Cycles I Sold (48):

    Abbado (I, II & III)
    Barenboim (II)
    Bruggen (I & II)
    Dausgaard
    Davis
    Dohnanyi
    Ferencsik
    Gardiner
    Gielen
    Giulini
    Goodman
    Haitink (I, II & III)
    Harnoncourt
    Hogwood
    Immerseel
    Jarvi
    Jansons
    Konwitschny
    Krips
    Leibowitz
    Leinsdorf
    Mackerras (I & II)
    Marriner
    Masur (I & II)
    Morris
    Muti
    Norrington (I & II)
    Ormandy
    Pletnev
    Rattle (I & II)
    Scherchen
    Schmidt-Isserstedt
    Schurict
    Solti (I & II)
    Vanska
    Vriend
    Weingartner
    Zinman
    I am surprised you kept the Kegel cycle.
    "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." Thomas Jefferson

    “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government.” – Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

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  18. #103
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    In descending order of preference:
    Karajan 1977 (on Blu-Ray Audio)
    Gardiner 1994
    Karajan 1985
    Karajan 1963
    Chailly 2011
    Wyn Morris 2017 (for 99 cents I couldn't resist)
    Bernstein 1979

  19. #104
    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnie Burgess View Post
    I am surprised you kept the Kegel cycle.
    I personally think that cycle is better than it's been given credit for. Rhythms are tight and most of the performances are excitedly driven. Before some of these companies like Brilliant Classics started releasing great cycles like Blomstedt's for $10-15, and long before Sony did their cardboard box reissues of Szell's cycle at around the same price point, this was one of the best, if not the best budget cycle out there. All the great cycles years ago were very expensive ($40 or more), but Kegel put out a pretty excellent cycle considering he didn't have the Berlin Philharmonic or Vienna or Cleveland or New York or the Staatskapelle Dresden at his disposal, and you could get it for a song and a dance. I think I paid around $15 for it initially. I still like to dig it out from time to time because despite only being remembered as an East German Communist, Kegel was a fine conductor trained under Karl Bohm.

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