Author Topic: Beethoven Symphonies on Record  (Read 26585 times)

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Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #40 on: February 11, 2010, 01:39:51 PM »
I must say, stuck at home in the Blizzard, I've had a bit of a revelation.  Last week I listened to Beethoven Symphony No. 3 By Immerseel and his HIP band.  Although I've enjoyed other selections form this set, I was bored by the Eroica.  Today, I put on Barenboim's recording with the Staatskapel Berlin.  What a difference!  Immerseel's funeral march clocks in at just over 13 minutes, it left me wondering when it would end.  Barenboim's is just over 18 minutes, and I was savoring every generously performed note of it.  The impression from the other three movements was similar.  Immerseel's band was straining just to play the notes, and imposing a strictly defined aesthetic on this music, while Barenboim and his superb ensemble were finding exquisite insights in every bar.  There were certainly liberties and indulgences taken, but I was, by and large, convinced.

I am a serious devotee of HIP, I think we need to know what composers expected to hear when they created their music.  But we can't be limited by that.   Full modern orchestra with a creative conductor can find things in the music that even the composer didn't imagine could be realized. 

And I will be looking for more recordings by Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

This is no surprise to me.  I have both cycles and the Immerseel never comes out of the box anymore.  It's just not that stimulating -- period instruments cannot make up for indifferent interpretation. 

Barenboim has become my favorite composer for live concerts.  He is never boring, and if critics carp about how loosely he is with the score, and whether his tempos are not sufficiently fleet, or his rubatos too extreme, or his dynamics to extreme, then I imagine they have spent their time reading notes rather than listening to music. 

Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #41 on: February 11, 2010, 03:48:06 PM »
This is no surprise to me.  I have both cycles and the Immerseel never comes out of the box anymore.  It's just not that stimulating -- period instruments cannot make up for indifferent interpretation. 

Barenboim has become my favorite composer for live concerts.  He is never boring, and if critics carp about how loosely he is with the score, and whether his tempos are not sufficiently fleet, or his rubatos too extreme, or his dynamics to extreme, then I imagine they have spent their time reading notes rather than listening to music.

I'm not as negative on Immerseel as you may have assumed from my previous post.  He does a superb job on 5, 7 and particularly 2.  3 is a misfire, 6 I don't really like much anyway.  But after listening to more and more of his cycle it strikes me that he has a very strict idea of proper performance practice for Beethoven (reinforced by his writings in the booklet, which is quite dogmatic about how Beethoven should be played).  He doesn't vary the approach in the different symphonies, which all have unique sound worlds.  I'm getting Immerseel fatigue.  He is not as versatile musician as Barenboim.

In any case, I listened to Barenboim's Beethoven 4 today.  I've never like the 4th but it has started to give me an appreciation of what this music is about.

George

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #42 on: February 12, 2010, 05:52:06 AM »
Interesting. I realise I've never heard Monteux's Beethoven: a twofer is available on Decca, with Symphonies 1, 3, 6, 8.

Renfield! Your inbox is full. Please PM me when you empty it?  :)

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #43 on: February 12, 2010, 07:20:13 AM »
I'm not as negative on Immerseel as you may have assumed from my previous post.  He does a superb job on 5, 7 and particularly 2.  3 is a misfire, 6 I don't really like much anyway.  But after listening to more and more of his cycle it strikes me that he has a very strict idea of proper performance practice for Beethoven (reinforced by his writings in the booklet, which is quite dogmatic about how Beethoven should be played).  He doesn't vary the approach in the different symphonies, which all have unique sound worlds.  I'm getting Immerseel fatigue.  He is not as versatile musician as Barenboim.

In any case, I listened to Barenboim's Beethoven 4 today.  I've never like the 4th but it has started to give me an appreciation of what this music is about.

Note: "Hybrid" refers to modern instrument historically informed performance.  I didn't coin this but I also can't remember where I first saw it referred to that way.  First hybrid cycle I believe was Harnoncourt's.

I don't know if it's the dogmatic approach, his strict adherence to "rules" or some other factor, but the plain truth is that Immerseel's cycle is very disappointing and although he has the 2, 5, and 7 standing out from the rest,  the remainder sink into a pool of mediocrity.  The cycle as a whole is not in the top tier.  It's not completely awful but in such a crowded field it's a non-starter for me.  The period instrument cycle that I like best is (no surprise) the Hogwood cycle followed by Gardiner (actually sounds like a Hybrid cycle!!).  After that there are a few individual discs such as Savall's Eroica (which although far from perfect has amazing shock value), and Bruno Weil's 2 discs with Tafelmusik.  For the rest I prefer some of the "Hybrid Hip" cycles: Dausgaard, Harnoncourt, Vänskä; and the more traditional cycles by Barenboim, Szell, Wand, Leibowitz, Cluytens, Toscanini, and some more which I don't recall off the top of my head.

In such a crowded field, efforts such as those by Philippe Herreweghe (still trying to get the whole thing recorded) and Immerseel fall by the wayside.  I'm still waiting for a really fantastic period instrument Beethoven cycle.  Who knows, perhaps Harnoncourt will record it with the CMW. 

Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #44 on: February 12, 2010, 07:32:41 AM »
I have some interest in Hogwood, not much in Gardiner, but there is a Bruggen cycle which you will sometimes hear mention of which is unfortunately out of print and not easily found used (at least not for a reasonable price).


Franco

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #45 on: February 12, 2010, 07:39:44 AM »
After hearing Jarvi and Dausgaard, Gardiner sounded bland.  As of today my favorites are Jarvi and Szell, but I have not heard most of the ones you guys are discussing.  Karajan 70s, Bernstein VPO, Blomstedt are my main sets, and they are all good - just not the ones that I enjoy the most.  I don't think I need another complete set beyond completing the Jarvi.

Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #46 on: February 12, 2010, 07:41:06 AM »
After hearing Jarvi and Dausgaard, Gardiner sounded bland.  As of today my favorites are Jarvi and Szell, but I have not heard most of the ones you guys are discussing.  Karajan 70s, Bernstein VPO, Blomstedt are my main sets, and they are all good - just not the ones that I enjoy the most.  I don't think I need another complete set beyond completing the Jarvi.

I'm curious about Daussgaard after hearing some of his Schumann.

Franco

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #47 on: February 12, 2010, 07:50:31 AM »
His traversal is interesting, I guess, in that he is recording all of the orchestral music and not just the symphonies.  So with any CD of a symphony it will be paired with some other orchestral work - and some of his programming is not what I might want.

His performances are very good though, not unlike Jarvi - just the kind of interpretations I like in Beethoven: quick, witty and transparent.

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2010, 07:54:06 AM »
I have some interest in Hogwood, not much in Gardiner, but there is a Bruggen cycle which you will sometimes hear mention of which is unfortunately out of print and not easily found used (at least not for a reasonable price).

I have the Brüggen cycle as well, but I also have some problems with it.  First the sound is from the earliest digital era so it's incredibly cold and bright which does no favor to violins played without vibrato.  I would not go out of my way to get it nowadays as it doesn't add much to the discussion.  I also forgot to mention the two Norrington cycles.  The LCP cycle has it's pros and cons, but imo is more of a historic document than a reference Beethoven cycle.  His later hybrid cycle is much better Beethoven. I wouldn't suggest that anyone should try to acquire the Brüggen cycle nowadays as it doesn't add more insight into the discussion and as you note the prices are way too high.  I'll have to get it out and review the performances because I don't remember much more than the awful way it sounded.

DarkAngel

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2010, 07:59:45 AM »
Bruggen/Phillips set is currently available at Archiv Music as a re-issue:
 
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=278720
 
 
 

DarkAngel

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #50 on: February 12, 2010, 08:01:52 AM »
After hearing Jarvi and Dausgaard, Gardiner sounded bland.  As of today my favorites are Jarvi and Szell, but I have not heard most of the ones you guys are discussing.  Karajan 70s, Bernstein VPO, Blomstedt are my main sets, and they are all good - just not the ones that I enjoy the most. I don't think I need another complete set beyond completing the Jarvi.

ha ha............I said that about 10 sets ago  ;)

George

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #51 on: February 12, 2010, 08:02:20 AM »
Bruggen/Phillips set is currently available at Archiv Music as a re-issue:
 
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=278720

By re-issue, I assume that you mean via CD-R copy?  :-\

Franco

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #52 on: February 12, 2010, 08:04:16 AM »

ha ha............I said that about 10 sets ago  ;)

Yeh, I forgot I wishlisted the Norrington and Abbado/Berlin.

:)
« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 08:08:16 AM by Franco »

DarkAngel

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #53 on: February 12, 2010, 08:06:43 AM »
By re-issue, I assume that you mean via CD-R copy?  :-\ 

Yes...........but they are quite nicely done now by Archiv with complete artwork and booklets, CD even has label artwork, only when you look at the data side of the CD will you notice the color and see it is CDR

Renfield

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #54 on: February 12, 2010, 08:20:05 AM »
Renfield! Your inbox is full. Please PM me when you empty it?  :)

Thanks. I knew I had forgotten to do something. There even appears to be a PM by someone that I've forgotten to respond to.

Fixed. :-[


I have the Brüggen cycle as well, but I also have some problems with it.  First the sound is from the earliest digital era so it's incredibly cold and bright which does no favor to violins played without vibrato. 

Yes, I can second that, about the overly-bright sound. However, Brüggen's cycle does have its rewards. It feels like 'workshop' Beethoven, discovering all sorts of nifty things and highlighting them left and right. Haydnised Beethoven, if you will.

I can't say I like it more than Norrington's, but it's a very idiomatic, playful cycle worth sampling at least to 'see what he does with them'. Even if, all in all, it's probably a bit more candy-coated than I prefer my Beethoven to be.

Offline Bunny

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #55 on: February 12, 2010, 08:24:47 AM »
Thanks. I knew I had forgotten to do something. There even appears to be a PM by someone that I've forgotten to respond to.

Fixed. :-[


Yes, I can second that, about the overly-bright sound. However, Brüggen's cycle does have its rewards. It feels like 'workshop' Beethoven, discovering all sorts of nifty things and highlighting them left and right. Haydnised Beethoven, if you will.

I can't say I like it more than Norrington's, but it's a very idiomatic, playful cycle worth sampling at least to 'see what he does with them'. Even if, all in all, it's probably a bit more candy-coated than I prefer my Beethoven to be.

I don't think there is anything about it that is worth the $65.00 + that it goes for nowadays.  Perhaps if it's rereleased as a budget box I would recommend it.

DarkAngel

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #56 on: February 12, 2010, 08:27:57 AM »
Yeh, I forgot I wishlisted the Norrington and Abbado/Berlin.

For Abbado/BPO did you decide to go with the 2000 teal boxset or the newer live maroon boxset?
(best to get live set which is also cheaper if you want my opinion)

Franco

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #57 on: February 12, 2010, 08:34:18 AM »

For Abbado/BPO did you decide to go with the 2000 teal boxset or the newer live maroon boxset?
(best to get live set which is also cheaper if you want my opinion)

The newer maroon box.

Renfield

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies on Record
« Reply #58 on: February 12, 2010, 08:38:49 AM »
I don't think there is anything about it that is worth the $65.00 + that it goes for nowadays.  Perhaps if it's rereleased as a budget box I would recommend it.

Yes, it's definitely not essential at that price. I got it for €15 new, on offer from JPC.