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Thread: Which Beethoven symphony cycle would you buy?

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    Default Which Beethoven symphony cycle would you buy?

    I would like to buy a Beethoven symphony cycle box! Right now I'm confused
    Michael Gielen is faster than Günter Wand and Jos Van Immerseel is HIP and in-between, but what about that Stanislaw Skrowaczewski?

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Cheap alert! One of the best cycles out there is done by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by René Liebowitz. Pre-HIP HIP, generally lively tempos with great articulation and virtuosic playing, especially the woodwinds. And you get a lot more stuff as well in this super-budget download. Good sound. $2.69!

    It’s here on Amazon.
    Last edited by KenOC; Jul-22-2019 at 23:30.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Cheap alert! One of the best cycles out there is done by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by René Liebowitz. Pre-HIP HIP, generally lively tempos with great articulation and virtuosic playing, especially the woodwinds. And you get a lot more stuff as well in this super-budget download. Good sound. $2.69!

    It’s here on Amazon.
    That is a GREAT set and so unknown...I first had in on Reader's Digest LPs and still own them - as well as the later CD incarnations. Terrific performances, great conducting, wonderful playing and superb sound despite being over 50 now.

    For a relatively, new, modern set I have enjoyed the Paavo Jarvi set a great deal. Superb sound and thrilling performances.
    51I0AslwAjL._SX425_.jpg

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    Ken & mbhaub - Thanks for the recommendations of Leibowitz & Paavo Jarvi - they should be interesting! Well, don't forget that the Szell/Cleveland CD set is still available at Amazon, for about $13. Even with the PLETHORA of many recommendations, this might be a 1st choice.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    For a relatively, new, modern set I have enjoyed the Paavo Jarvi set a great deal. Superb sound and thrilling performances.
    I don’t have the Paavo Jarvi cycle but I’ve heard it is very good. On the old Amazon forum, a hard-fought battle gave first place to the set by Gardiner and the ORR, edging Karajan’s 1963 set. I personally consider Gardiner to be the top pick among all Beethoven cycles, the later newer releases I’ve heard notwithstanding. Currently $20+ new.



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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    I would like to buy a Beethoven symphony cycle box! Right now I'm confused
    Michael Gielen is faster than Günter Wand and Jos Van Immerseel is HIP and in-between, but what about that Stanislaw Skrowaczewski?
    I take it you do not currently own an entire cycle. You pose the same question that presumably has led many of us to multiple cycles.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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    Szell/Cleveland on Sony is excellent. Beyond what has already been said, I would throw the Vanska/Minnesota cycle on BIS into the mix for a modern one. Modern instruments, but HIP ideas incorporated.

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    I'm with KenOC: if I didn't have a single set of the symphonies (or even if you have a few) I don't see why I should pay more than the price for the excellent Rene Liebowitz set. It really is very good. Even at ten or twenty times the price you could find it hard to find as good.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    Since everything is on spotify except Berlin Phil. with Rattle, that's the one I just ordered. It was really hard for me to pick one. I used no. 3 to compare, but I seem to like them all, just not Brüggen...Anyway getting a set was cheaper than I imagined.
    Last edited by Kjetil Heggelund; Jul-23-2019 at 10:12.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Have a read through these threads, below. Lots of ideas for you.

    Beethoven symphony cycle with the best sound and performance

    If You Could Only Have One Beethoven Symphony Cycle

    Personally Skrowaczewski is my go-to set these days. Modern sound, great tempi, no bad performances, blah blah blah......but there are others I love old and new. Do your homework, listen to clips on youtube or via streaming, etc. With over 170 full cycles out there its easy to get lost. Really depends on what you want too.....moderate tempi, metronomic, big-band, HIP, chamber-size orchestra, historic, digital, analogue, mono, etc.

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    Edit: I just read that you ordered Rattle/ BPO. You must be rich. Lol.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-23-2019 at 11:50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    Since everything is on spotify except Berlin Phil. with Rattle, that's the one I just ordered. It was really hard for me to pick one. I used no. 3 to compare, but I seem to like them all, just not Brüggen...Anyway getting a set was cheaper than I imagined.
    Haven't heard the Rattle cycle. I'm pretty lukewarm about him in general. I like some of his Mahler, but otherwise, nothing really excited me.

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrMike View Post
    Haven't heard the Rattle cycle. I'm pretty lukewarm about him in general. I like some of his Mahler, but otherwise, nothing really excited me.
    I have and you're not missing anything.

    I'm baffled by the OP. I personally don't know why someone would buy the only cycle not available for you to preview, and especially one without any recommendations here and very few positive reviews. Years ago there was no way for me to hear anything other than what was on the radio or unless I purchased it but now you have all sorts of opportunities to try before you buy.

    And what does it matter who is faster than who or who is HIP or who is whatever? There are so many different ways to sample recordings these days. Listen and pick one that resonates with you, simple as that. I have lots that resonate with me so I own lots of cycles.

    There are lots of great ones out there and I listen to them all the time and pick whichever conductor or orchestra based on my mood of that day. Today I might listen to Karajan's 70's cycle, tomorrow it may be Klemperer, the day after it might be Chailly, the day after that Wand, etc. There are things I usually like from all of them. There is no "one cycle to rule them all" for most people, unless (A.) you own one and that's all you care to buy because you aren't interested in exploring other interpretations or are so dead said in your way that you think it's the only right one or (B.) you're a fanatic about 1 particular conductor or orchestra.

    Explore and enjoy...
    Last edited by realdealblues; Jul-23-2019 at 13:32.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    I listened to many 3rd symphonies on spotify and decided that I already have them available to stream any time I like. That's why I chose Rattle/Berlin. I did hear 2'30" of it on youtube and I was raised on Rattle, so I'm very happy with my choice I did read a positive review too and paid 35 EUR with shipping. Also I was only considering the 4 I mentioned before spotify decided for me.
    Last edited by Kjetil Heggelund; Jul-23-2019 at 14:46.

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    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    I have the Rattle-Berlin set. Believe me, it looks good on the shelf. It is also one of closest Rattle has got to building a beautiful Karajan-esque blend of sound with which one hear the orchestra instead of the instruments.... Oh didn't I mention Beethoven? That wasn't intended. It isn't bad at all, quite good in fact. I just see it more as a collector's item than a go-to set.

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    Quote Originally Posted by realdealblues View Post
    I have and you're not missing anything.

    I'm baffled by the OP. I personally don't know why someone would buy the only cycle not available for you to preview, and especially one without any recommendations here and very few positive reviews. Years ago there was no way for me to hear anything other than what was on the radio or unless I purchased it but now you have all sorts of opportunities to try before you buy.

    And what does it matter who is faster than who or who is HIP or who is whatever? There are so many different ways to sample recordings these days. Listen and pick one that resonates with you, simple as that. I have lots that resonate with me so I own lots of cycles.

    There are lots of great ones out there and I listen to them all the time and pick whichever conductor or orchestra based on my mood of that day. Today I might listen to Karajan's 70's cycle, tomorrow it may be Klemperer, the day after it might be Chailly, the day after that Wand, etc. There are things I usually like from all of them. There is no "one cycle to rule them all" for most people, unless (A.) you own one and that's all you care to buy because you aren't interested in exploring other interpretations or are so dead said in your way that you think it's the only right one or (B.) you're a fanatic about 1 particular conductor or orchestra.

    Explore and enjoy...
    Yeah, I mostly agree here. If all the good ones are available on streaming services, why bother buying one that might not be worth the cost? I've never heard anybody praise Rattle for his Beethoven.

    There is such a wealth of excellent recordings of these symphonies, in whatever style you prefer. For complete cycles, I have Paavo Jarvi's, Osmo Vanska's, Szell's, and Immerseel's. But then I have a scattering of other recordings - Karajan's praised 9th, as well as great 9ths from Fricsay, Klemperer, Furtwangler, Gardiner. I have the great Kleiber recording of the 5th and 7th. Various other Klemperer recordings, a Hogwood 3rd, and a Toscanini 3rd. I doubt I'm done.

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