Author Topic: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?  (Read 43227 times)

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Offline stateworker

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Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« on: January 30, 2013, 06:16:54 PM »
Hello, it's Guillermo from statework.

Here is the rub. Although a plethora of performances exist of the Beethoven Nine Symphonies, both officially released and unofficially recorded, which of them have you played most often in your life so far? Alternately, which is your favorite. These two things can be frequently exclusive. Yes, I am trying to start a free-for-all.

My own two bits: After hearing most of the available recordings out there at least once over these 20 years of truly obsessive classical music-collecting behavior, I imprinted on the Karajan / Berliner Phil 1962 cycle. that is in the running, always, regardless of later constructions regarding personal taste. So that is the one I've heard most.

But the ones that I've really gotten impressed and pleased by? The spotty Paavo Jarvi and his Deutsche Kammerphilharmie Bremen folks do a great job of reinvigorating the majority of symphonies. It has too many swaths where I'm spooked out of the reverie by the loss of 'feeling', or gusto. Dunno. fun regardless.
Andre Cluytens and the Berliners is my dark horse fave. What verve, for the time, and a more complete experience... but comes across as still a bit creaky here and there. It is as if some set pieces were bound by tradition, another thing I cannot properly express but feel is a slight impairment.
To be honest, i never got over the whole southeast asian minor issue, despite Mikhail Pletnev's acquittal. I feel bad about that, because his Russian Orchestra's cycle was really satisfying. Still, not tops.

So. Immerseel and Anima Eterna are great but i red flag some of the overzealous tempi when I hear them, especially in the 6th. Another one full of superlative heights offset by maddeningly vain lows (but that would be just perfect for Ludwig Van, now isn't it??)

Ivan Fischer leading  both the Budapest Festival and, at other junctures, the Orchestra of the Age Of Enlightenment have a cobbled together set from performances in the last 5 years that would take the cake. but for a clinching 9th, which it lacks...

The Ormandy / Fab Phillies Cycle is my favorite in the scratchy LP pressing I have digitized, but it may be abetted by the pops and jumps, and that nostalgic lagniappe brings with it a disqualifying sentimentality...
The Leibowitz cycle is a solid choice. All round, top 89% . no lagging below a standard. Yet, no sailing clear of the margins either...

Maybe I need to listen to the semi recent Bruggen/ Orchestra of the 18th Cen, and the Herreweghe with his Flemish forces, as they both have sway over me these past weeks. They sent me back into the perennial Beethoven madness, anyway!

HHmmmmmmm :-\ 

So this is why The Question in this post.

What do you think about your favorite ( or only ) Beethoven Cycle?
 
 

 

Offline springrite

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 07:40:45 PM »
As someone who almost never listento HIP performances, my current favorite since its arrival a year ago has been Immerseel.
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Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 08:30:30 PM »
Norrington - LCP

Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 08:49:30 PM »
I share some of your favorites. I was imprinted on Karajan '62: it was the set my dad kept in the house, it was the set I was raised on.

I think Immerseel's is my favorite Fifth.
I think Paavo Jarvi is a very interesting cycle, although it is very similar to Thomas Dausgaard, which mostly came first.
Abbado/Berlin, the "Rome" cycle (red box), is a very good all-around set. Mackerras and Scottish Chamber Orchestra are only slightly less good.

Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin are an excellent alternative, but the interpretations are so unusual, so monumental in scope, that they are not a #1 pick.

I am currently listening to Chailly/Gewandhaus. If 4-9 are as good as 1-3, this will be one of my favorite cycles ever.

My favorite performances of each symphony?
1: Dausgaard, Mackerras, Skrowaczewski, Chailly
2: Dausgaard, P. Jarvi
3: Dausgaard uber alles
4: Hogwood uber alles
5: Immerseel uber alles
6: Barenboim, P. Jarvi
7: C. Kleiber, Chailly, Karajan '62, Abbado/Rome
8: Abbado/Rome, P. Jarvi, Karajan '62, Haitink/LSO
9: Wand/RCA, Dohnanyi, Gardiner, Abbado/Rome

Cycles I have heard: Karajan '62, Szell, Harnoncourt, Gardiner, Hogwood, Immerseel, Mackerras, Dausgaard, Skrowaczewski, P. Jarvi, Barenboim, Abbado/Rome, Nelson, Haitink/LSO
Cycles I own but have not yet heard in full: Bernstein/Sony, van Zweden, Chailly

EDIT: Fixed typos, I am intoxicated
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 08:53:33 PM by Brian »

Offline david johnson

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 12:17:08 AM »
i fear there is too much candy in the shop for me to pick!!   :)   the cycles i have are hvk '63 & klemperer/philharmonia, plus a few great singles scattered around.  i have no favorite between the two, but appreciate the different sounds they produce.
the cycles i want are schmidt-isserstedt/vpo & and the ancient weingartner/vpo.

Offline trung224

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 03:04:44 AM »
  I can not live with only one Beethoven symphonies cycle. But to me, Karajan (BPO 1962), Klemperer (Philharmonia), Szell (Cleveland Orchestra), Schuricht (Paris), Kletzki (Czech Phiharmonic) all are indispensible. And Furtwängler in wartime IMHO created the most passionate performances I have heard, though I can't live with only them  ( because they wrenched my heart).

Offline DavidA

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 09:14:55 AM »
It is impossible to pick one Beethoven cycle as no conductor is going to be equally convincing in them all.
Of the ones I own the is:
Toscanini - great performances, a little hard driven at times but at their best awesome. Sadly let down by the sound - poor even for the day.
Klemperer - I have two sets - the Philamonia  and a set taken from live broadcasts. K is very interesting for the way he builds movements - he is, however, pretty slow. But we'll worth hearing.
Karajan 62 - tremendous set a little short on repeats. I supplemented it with 3, 6, 9 from '77. Number 6 from 62 is a bit hard driven - the 77 is better being just a little more relaxed.
Norrington - interesting but doesn't have the grandeur of HvK.
Chailly - fantastic playing and recording. Still wondering whether I like the fast tempi or not.
Whatever set y have, Carlos Kleiber's 5&7 on DG is a must. Supendous.

Offline stateworker

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 06:13:46 PM »
...
Abbado/Berlin, the "Rome" cycle (red box),
'''
I am currently listening to Chailly/Gewandhaus. If 4-9 are as good as 1-3, this will be one of my favorite cycles ever.

...

, van Zweden...

AH! that Chailly is another I did really enjoy. I consider it an updated Rene Liebowitz set, in more wonderful sound quality.  Brutally delicious recording sound, really.

I've not heard the Rome Set!! I will do so! thank you.

I liked Van Zweden, but only heard it once.

   
and trung, I am ashamed, not having heard the Kletzki!

But... the Furtwangler omission is the neon stripe-pajama'd elephant with paisley sneakers in the room. I imprinted on Karajan, yes. But upon getting into the back stories of everyone, everything, that history led me to Furtwangler and I listened to Music and Arts wartime cycle- incomplete as it is- incessantly. Enraptured. I am a complete WF groupie. I left him out because, well, I flaked. It's too big, so I just skipped mention.

but Furtwangler's 1952 Eroica? those engulfing 1942 NINTHS.  What.

What.

I suppose there is my answer. My favorite is the Furtwangler. I just hadn't come to realize it.

Thank you.


Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2013, 09:33:28 PM »
I liked Van Zweden, but only heard it once.

Van Zweden's is one of those perennially underrated sets but sadly the hopes it'll ever be more than a curio seems unlikely. It bobbed out of print the second it came IN print and got zero promotion. But it is a worthy set, no doubt.


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Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2013, 10:55:14 PM »
My top picks:


HIP runners up:


Q
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 10:57:02 PM by Que »
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Offline mszczuj

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2013, 04:44:54 AM »
The Hanover Band with Goodman and Hugget is absolutely No.1 if you have good acustic in the room.

My other favorites are Kletzki and Paavo Jarvi.

I like Chailly and Mackerras, Immerseel and new Haitink.

Don't like Furtwangler and Toscanini, never heard Schell and Jochum.

Want to try Leibowitz and Dausgaard.

Offline trung224

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2013, 05:42:20 AM »
AH! that Chailly is another I did really enjoy. I consider it an updated Rene Liebowitz set, in more wonderful sound quality.  Brutally delicious recording sound, really.

I've not heard the Rome Set!! I will do so! thank you.

I liked Van Zweden, but only heard it once.

   
and trung, I am ashamed, not having heard the Kletzki!

But... the Furtwangler omission is the neon stripe-pajama'd elephant with paisley sneakers in the room. I imprinted on Karajan, yes. But upon getting into the back stories of everyone, everything, that history led me to Furtwangler and I listened to Music and Arts wartime cycle- incomplete as it is- incessantly. Enraptured. I am a complete WF groupie. I left him out because, well, I flaked. It's too big, so I just skipped mention.

but Furtwangler's 1952 Eroica? those engulfing 1942 NINTHS.  What.

What.

I suppose there is my answer. My favorite is the Furtwangler. I just hadn't come to realize it.

Thank you.
      Welcome to Furtwängler Groupie, Stateworker  ;D. About Kletzki, I think you should try this set. About interpretation, I found Kletzki is not so original.Apart from symphony 1,2,4, he was at best in the Pastoral symphonies (which is one of my favorite with Cluytens BPO, Furtwängler wartime, Walter CSO, Kleiber BRSO, Mengelberg RCOA), but in the  high voltage symphonies 3,5,7,9, he laid back to the ordinary conductor. The reasons to make this set interesting for me is the Czech Philharmonic, which  the unique rustic sound makes the Beethoven symphonies more playful but not in expense of heft and power in outer section.

Offline xochitl

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2013, 04:30:16 AM »
overall i would say Wand's first cycle is the one i find the least amount of things to disagree with.  like his Bruckner, it just makes sense.  and his 3rd, 5th and 9th are among the best ever imo.  bruggen is a close second, the highs are way higher, but the lows are lower.

now if i had a choice of individual recordings of each?
1: bernstein/vpo
2: bernstein/vpo
3: toscanini [39], wand, bruggen, zinman, dohnanyi/cleveland
4: zinman, kubelik/israel po
5: wand, bruggen, leibowitz, karajan [77], dorati
6: vanska, zinman
7: bruggen, rattle, karajan [77], leibowitz
8: chailly,
9: wand, szell, furtwangler [42]

Offline Cato

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2013, 04:43:20 AM »
I have the Dohnanyi/Cleveland Orchestra complete symphonies: it is cheaper to buy them individually (6 CD's) than to buy the out-of-print set.

Great sound and performances: but yes, the other recommendations from earlier days (Karajan, Szell, Kubelik, Jochum) are fine also.
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Offline Marc

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2013, 05:42:02 AM »
Though not being exactly a Beethovian, my two fave cycles are Leibowitz (modern instruments) and Brüggen I (period instruments) on Philips, which, overall, I slightly prefer to Van Immerssel. (Have not heard Brüggen II yet.)
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2013, 12:30:49 PM »
Nice to hear some love for the very fine Cluytens set. Goes to show what the Berliners could do before Karajan changed their sound, but with a more disciplined conductor than Willi.

There can't ever be one top Beethoven symphony set. It is by necessity an ongoing exploration. The ones that really do it for me right now are Schuricht, Chailly, Barenboim (especially 3, 6 and 7), Antonini's marvellous ongoing cycle (especially the 3rd makes you wonder why you should ever bother with P. Järvi). Kleiber jr. of course remains indispensable (though I would throw in his (pirated) live 5th with CSO!). Oh, btw, I recently came across a stupendous live 5th with de Sabata and NYPO! Wow, what a performance!

Offline Geo Dude

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2013, 04:36:47 PM »
Fun thread.  After growing up with Szell and Karajan ('62) and listening to the living hell out of the Karajan I have settled on the Immerseel set as my favorite.  Like the OP I'm not fond of his sixth, but that has nothing to do with excessive tempos. ;)

Offline mszczuj

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2013, 11:15:48 PM »
About interpretation, I found Kletzki is not so original.Apart from symphony 1,2,4, he was at best in the Pastoral symphonies, but in the  high voltage symphonies 3,5,7,9, he laid back to the ordinary conductor.

I can't agree less, 3 and 9 are absolutely high points of this set, especially 1st movement of 9 is for me much richer and colourfull than any other I have heard so far, after unbelievable cosmos waves of Kletzki almost all other interpretation seems to me absolutely banal in their onedimensional dramatic approach.

Offline mszczuj

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2013, 11:23:34 PM »
By the way I have heard Szell at last, I liked it, definitely l liked it, but not so much to make it one of my favorite choices.

Offline dimmer

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Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2013, 01:23:27 AM »
My favorite recent cycle remains Osmo Vänskä. Precision and passion produces riveting results.



As someone who grew up on period instrument performances, I wish I liked the Immerseel set more, but it just doesn't catch fire.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 01:25:03 AM by dimmer »
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