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Thread: Which Beethoven symphony cycle would you buy?

  1. #76
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    I've listened to well over half of the Maag symphonies now, and have thoroughly enjoyed what I have been hearing. They are very loving performances, with a nice lilt to them, nothing controversial of point-making, just good quality music making.

    The orchestra are no amateurs, they sound suitably well drilled without being over-rehearsed (not that I'd expect that), not huge and Berliny on the strings, really nice woodwind especially.

    Where to rank it? Well, the No.4 is a very enjoyable performance, but my favourites (Jochum and Kletzki, and Bruno Walter) can sleep in peace. I think they have that extra special something, in what is an extra special symphony, even among Beethoven's....

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  3. #77
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    [B]I found the SQ of the cheap sony box so muddy that I have now declined buying any Beethoven.

    The mastering on that box set (notwithstanding Sony's claim to the contrary) is still the 1990s mastering. About 3 years ago, Sony Japan did a new mastering for its hybrid SACD release. The Szell megabox appears to have the newer mastering. Not sure if there's any way to get the new mastering cheaply.
    Sony screwed up a lot of those cheap boxes. The Bruno Walter Mahler set is abominable.

    For Szell, you might find a copy of the Original Jackets Beethoven, which sounded better than the cheap box or the Essential Classics that preceded it.

  4. #78
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    Sony screwed up a lot of those cheap boxes. The Bruno Walter Mahler set is abominable.

    For Szell, you might find a copy of the Original Jackets Beethoven, which sounded better than the cheap box or the Essential Classics that preceded it.
    Why, what's wrong with the Walter Mahler box? I was considering getting it. I like all the sony boxes I have.

  5. #79
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Why, what's wrong with the Walter Mahler box? I was considering getting it. I like all the sony boxes I have.
    I've read that Sony did a poor job on this edition. There's a lengthy review at Amazon with the details. The reviewer recommends the older Columbia Masterworks edition of nos. 1-2. There are copies for 2 and change.
    https://www.amazon.com/Mahler-Sympho...=music&sr=1-10
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Getting back to Beethoven...the Bruno Walter/Columbia cycle was available in really good Sony remasters, ca 1995, as a sub-$10 download from Amazon. It seems to have disappeared. Worth keeping your eyes open.


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  8. #81
    Senior Member jim prideaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    I've listened to well over half of the Maag symphonies now, and have thoroughly enjoyed what I have been hearing. They are very loving performances, with a nice lilt to them, nothing controversial of point-making, just good quality music making.

    The orchestra are no amateurs, they sound suitably well drilled without being over-rehearsed (not that I'd expect that), not huge and Berliny on the strings, really nice woodwind especially.

    Where to rank it? Well, the No.4 is a very enjoyable performance, but my favourites (Jochum and Kletzki, and Bruno Walter) can sleep in peace. I think they have that extra special something, in what is an extra special symphony, even among Beethoven's....
    You have just reminded me that I lost my Kletzki cycle when my lap top 'blew up'...…..

    'extra special symphony'.....the 4th, can only agree with your sentiment here 'CnC' but I do put Maag at the top although I suspect I will have to return to Kletzki and investigate Jochum (which recording would you recommend?)
    Last edited by jim prideaux; Oct-15-2019 at 07:09.
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  10. #82
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    No.4 is one of my more favoured Beethoven symphonies, it probably follows No.7 in my own personal ranking. That said, despite its relative "lightness", I much prefer it done in the old way, I don't really think HIP works quite as well with it as it does with certain others; I feel the thinner sound and greater emphasis on rhythm in HIP style perofrmances de-romaticises it to some extent. Hence my hit list of three old-school interpretations.

    No issues whatsoever with Maag, it's indeed a lovely performance, he paces it so well, and the orchestra seem well and truly on his side. He's rather good in the skippy happy bits of the first movement, and of the third too. If there's anything missing, it's a bit of heft, but this is purely a personal preference, and don't worry, I won't hold you responsible in any way for the (actually non-existent!) disappointment!

    For me, Bruno Walter is the best, I prefer his No.4 even above his much-praised Pastoral. Kletzki scores well with the orchestral sound - the Czechs still had that wonderful woodwind sound that is perhaps less distinct these days. Jochum (his EMI London recording) was the recording I really bonded with this work over. I had it on the old EMI Eminence LPs, I think coupled with a Leonore overture, played it to death! He makes the second movement into a beautiful combination of rhythm and gentleness (no doubt others manage just as well, but this one's mine!) that brings out the human side of Beethoven as well as anyone does.

    Him and Cluytens are still my go-to conductors with these pieces.
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Oct-15-2019 at 10:35.

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  12. #83
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Why, what's wrong with the Walter Mahler box? I was considering getting it. I like all the sony boxes I have.
    The sound is dreadful. I have earlier issues of Symphonies 1&2, all of which sound vastly better than what’s in the cheap box.

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