Author Topic: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?  (Read 57857 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline Ras

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 100
Herreweghe's period 9th on Harmonia Mundi
« Reply #240 on: January 22, 2019, 05:56:18 AM »
What about a set from Herreweghe
it seems the set was just mentioned in #178 only ...
please give an opinion regarding the set
thank you

I wasn't blown away by Herreweghe's Flemish cycle on Pentatone using modern instruments, but his period recording of the 9th symphony on Harmonia Mundi is my favorite period recording of that symphony. - It was dirt cheap when I bought it.

"Music is life and, like it, inextinguishable." - Carl Nielsen

Online Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 21265
    • Brian's blog
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #241 on: May 13, 2020, 01:17:25 PM »
BUMP

This Beethoven anniversary year, why not do some intensive, comparative symphony listening? I'm starting out with an old-fashioned shootout between two complete cycles recorded around the turn of the 1950s into the 1960s by patricianly, veteran French-speaking conductors whom everybody loves...

That's right...it's CLUYTENS v. MONTEUX!

Going wildly out of order...

No. 4. The first thing that surprises me about Monteux' reading (with the London Symphony; his cycle is divided among multiple orchestras) is that he takes the first-movement repeat, which wasn't a common choice back then. The second thing that surprises me is the sheer liveliness, the vivacity. This is not "old man" Beethoven! Cluytens is noticeably slower in the first movement, but doesn't feel any more sluggish, in part because of that big ol' beefy Berlin Philharmonic sound. (Karajan/Berlin feels like such a historic milestone, recorded just a few years later, but the gorgeous, oceanic violin section is already in place in 1959.) Cluytens' timpani is a bit less forward, his bassoon soloist a bit more so.

Both are great. Maybe I might give a slight edge to Monteux' velocity and joie de vivre, but there's no loser here.

No. 7. Monteux cuts the repeat this time, but he doesn't cut down on the excitement. The allegretto, not quite allegretto at 8:44, feels monumental, and the rest of the symphony dances as it should. Not much to say, honestly: it's just darn good.

Aaaand we hit cocktail hour so I'll have to listen to Cluytens' Seventh tomorrow  ;D

Offline Holden

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1821
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #242 on: May 13, 2020, 01:35:35 PM »
Good choice from my perspective as I own both cycles. The Monteux 7th is close to my top pick if not the top.
Cheers

Holden

Offline George

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5985
  • Hey Bert!
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #243 on: May 13, 2020, 01:56:00 PM »
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Online JBS

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3597
  • If music be the food of love, play on!
  • Location: USA
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #244 on: May 13, 2020, 02:23:10 PM »


Current incarnation



My preferences remain about the same
Chailly among the recent modern orchestra cycles, Gardiner for the PI, and either Karajan 70s,  Bernstein VPO, or Bohm for the "traditional" 20th century big band sound.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Offline j winter

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 799
  • Location: Newark, DE USA
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #245 on: May 13, 2020, 05:51:17 PM »
Good choice from my perspective as I own both cycles. The Monteux 7th is close to my top pick if not the top.

Agreed on both counts; I may listen along too as I haven't listened to either set in the past few years... really good 7ths are hard to come by, and I remember greatly enjoying Monteux's....


Chailly among the recent modern orchestra cycles, Gardiner for the PI, and either Karajan 70s,  Bernstein VPO, or Bohm for the "traditional" 20th century big band sound.


Very much agreed on Chailly and 70's Karajan.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 05:54:04 PM by j winter »
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Online vers la flamme

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1596
  • Location: Atlanta
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #246 on: May 14, 2020, 01:19:47 AM »
Any love for Bernstein/NY Philharmonic/Sony? I've recently acquired the complete set and really like it. Disclaimer: I did not read the whole thread

Offline Biffo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1858
  • Location: United Kingdom
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #247 on: May 14, 2020, 01:33:53 AM »
Any love for Bernstein/NY Philharmonic/Sony? I've recently acquired the complete set and really like it. Disclaimer: I did not read the whole thread

I bought No 3 from that cycle as an LP (ca. 1970) and it has remained a favourite ever since. For no particular reason I didn't hear any of the rest of the cycle until fairly recently when I bought the Sony box set. My only disappointment was with No 5 which I found rather plodding - a bit of a surprise given how dynamic Bernstein is in the rest of the cycle. When the set was discussed in another forum several people singled out No 5 as their all time favourite, something I just couldn't understand.

Offline Jo498

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4764
  • Location: Germany
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #248 on: May 14, 2020, 02:31:02 AM »
The Bernstein 5 is plodding and the Vienna is not better, not sure why Bernstein adopted such broad tempo (esp. in the first movement). I don't have all of the Sony/CBS but the Eroica is a favorite of mine and the 4th and 7th are also quite good in my recollection. However, the general sound of them is a bit rough which can add to the excitement but is bound to offend some listeners.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8613
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #249 on: May 14, 2020, 04:29:18 AM »
With the recent acquisition of the Nagano-Montreal set (still in wraps), I count 21 cycles on my shelves. That's probably half a dozen too many,, as they are not all intense or individual enough to make the cut. Among those I return to more often for that individual POV are:

- Böhm WP
- Wyn Morris LSO
- Scherchen VSOO
- Peter Maag
- Schmidt-Issestedt WP
- Karajan BP 1977
- Cluytens BP
- Ansermet SRO

Not to be easily discarded: Ferencsik, KKletzki, Bernstein II, Monteux.

New list, in no particular order:

de Vriend
Böhm
Monteux
Schmidt-Isserstedt
Nagano
Maag


Online Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 21265
    • Brian's blog
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #250 on: May 14, 2020, 09:42:32 AM »
BUMP

This Beethoven anniversary year, why not do some intensive, comparative symphony listening? I'm starting out with an old-fashioned shootout between two complete cycles recorded around the turn of the 1950s into the 1960s by patricianly, veteran French-speaking conductors whom everybody loves...

That's right...it's CLUYTENS v. MONTEUX!

Going wildly out of order...

No. 4. The first thing that surprises me about Monteux' reading (with the London Symphony; his cycle is divided among multiple orchestras) is that he takes the first-movement repeat, which wasn't a common choice back then. The second thing that surprises me is the sheer liveliness, the vivacity. This is not "old man" Beethoven! Cluytens is noticeably slower in the first movement, but doesn't feel any more sluggish, in part because of that big ol' beefy Berlin Philharmonic sound. (Karajan/Berlin feels like such a historic milestone, recorded just a few years later, but the gorgeous, oceanic violin section is already in place in 1959.) Cluytens' timpani is a bit less forward, his bassoon soloist a bit more so.

Both are great. Maybe I might give a slight edge to Monteux' velocity and joie de vivre, but there's no loser here.

No. 7. Monteux cuts the repeat this time, but he doesn't cut down on the excitement. The allegretto, not quite allegretto at 8:44, feels monumental, and the rest of the symphony dances as it should. Not much to say, honestly: it's just darn good.

Aaaand we hit cocktail hour so I'll have to listen to Cluytens' Seventh tomorrow  ;D
I gotta hand No. 7 to Monteux here. Cluytens is just too slow for my taste...well-played and romantic, but needs energy. He doesn't need to strip it down and go crazy like Chailly or Dausgaard or Norrington...just being more like Monteux would do  ;D

Offline Jo498

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4764
  • Location: Germany
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #251 on: May 14, 2020, 10:44:30 AM »
I have not heard any of Monteux' Beethoven but I never understood what was supposed to be so remarkable with the Cluytens cycle. If one wants "old school" there are lots of other choices, albeit usually in worse sound. And the more "modern" roughly contemporary recordings by Leibowitz and Karajan blow it away if one prefers such an approach.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8613
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #252 on: May 14, 2020, 12:32:39 PM »
Cluytens is quite unlike Leibowitz or Karajan IMO. His Beethoven is more stately, more avuncular. He succeeds best in nos 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9. In the others it hangs fire. For his type of approach I prefer Maag, Morris, Schmidt-Isserstedt and Böhm. Even with comparably slow tempi they are more alert, with more tensile strength. Cluytens’ relaxed way is suitable for listening on rainy days

Offline Holden

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1821
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #253 on: May 14, 2020, 12:51:22 PM »
Agreed on both counts; I may listen along too as I haven't listened to either set in the past few years... really good 7ths are hard to come by, and I remember greatly enjoying Monteux's....



Very much agreed on Chailly and 70's Karajan.

One of the things that make this stand out for me is the timing. After the introduction the time signature changes at bar 62? (my counting) from 4/4 to 6/8. Monteux makes this timing very evident. This change of time signature adds to the energy of the movement without unduly speeding it up. With many other versions you can't really hear this and they sound like they are in 3/4 time instead. (Some even 4/4). Toscanini also did this which is probably why he had so many well regarded recordings of this work.

This time signature issue in the first movement is one of my major quibbles with the much vaunted Carlos Kleiber recording. Beethoven clearly indicates, with the way he arrests the end of the slow introduction and changes to 6/8, that the time signature is imperative. To me it's like he's changing gears in a manual transmission truck. This might be a poor analogy but I hope you get my drift.
Cheers

Holden

Online André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8613
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #254 on: May 14, 2020, 03:45:42 PM »
One of the things that make this stand out for me is the timing. After the introduction the time signature changes at bar 62? (my counting) from 4/4 to 6/8. Monteux makes this timing very evident. This change of time signature adds to the energy of the movement without unduly speeding it up. With many other versions you can't really hear this and they sound like they are in 3/4 time instead. (Some even 4/4). Toscanini also did this which is probably why he had so many well regarded recordings of this work.

This time signature issue in the first movement is one of my major quibbles with the much vaunted Carlos Kleiber recording. Beethoven clearly indicates, with the way he arrests the end of the slow introduction and changes to 6/8, that the time signature is imperative. To me it's like he's changing gears in a manual transmission truck. This might be a poor analogy but I hope you get my drift.

Very interesting ! When does this happen in the Monteux recording? If you could point to the min/sec of that time signature change, that would be most helpful. I think you refer to the start of the allegro, but I’m not sure. And I can’t count bars... :-[

Offline Holden

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1821
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #255 on: May 14, 2020, 07:16:28 PM »
Very interesting ! When does this happen in the Monteux recording? If you could point to the min/sec of that time signature change, that would be most helpful. I think you refer to the start of the allegro, but I’m not sure. And I can’t count bars... :-[

THe transition begins at 3:32 and builds to 3:58 with a series of repeated double notes where woodwind and strings interplay leading into the new theme. The time signature changes to 6/8 at 4:12. Because I wasn't sure exactly when it changed I cheated and looked at the score
Cheers

Holden

Online vers la flamme

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1596
  • Location: Atlanta
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #256 on: May 22, 2020, 12:47:12 AM »
Since the forum reset has removed some of my posts, I'd like to take this chance to again defend the Bernstein/NY Beethoven 5. It's slow, yes, but never plodding, and somehow Lenny still keeps great momentum throughout. It's one of my favorite 5ths and a highlight of a great cycle.

Offline vmartell

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 21
  • Location: Los Angeles
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #257 on: May 24, 2020, 12:31:08 PM »
In order to preference...

1.- Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin
2.- Bruno Walter. Columbia SO, Stereo
3.- Otto Klemperer, EMI, Philharmonia
4.- Karajan 77
5.- Karajan 63
6.- Furtwangler, EMI
7.- Thielemann, Sony
8.- Jochum, Phillips
9.- Bernstein VPO
10.- Schmidt-Isserstedt, VPO, Decca


Offline Philoctetes

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 168
  • One and one makes one.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Lasgo, Milk Inc, Sylver
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #258 on: May 24, 2020, 02:56:41 PM »
Igor Markevitch with Carlos Kleiber filling in the blanks (4 and 7).
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 03:05:33 PM by Philoctetes »
"That wouldn't be believable. Well, not if you don't believe it" (Trick, 1999).

"You'd like me to be dumb and nothing more. Maybe you think that, but I don't. But that's how it should be" (Undertow, 2009).

Offline Daverz

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5667
  • You can't fool me, it's turtles all the way down!
Re: Beethoven Symphonies Cycle: Which is your #1 pick?
« Reply #259 on: May 24, 2020, 05:18:17 PM »
I have not worked my way through the whole set (to be honest, I never listen to any Beethoven set that way), but I want to put in a word for Kletzki with the Czech Philharmonic.  I love the sound of this orchestra in Beethoven.



My first Beethoven set on LP was Böhm/Vienna from the International Preview Society, and I still have a soft spot for it.





I'd also like to express my admiration for that Bernstein/NYP Eroica (Bernstein Century CD).  To me it just sounds like the way this music should go.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 05:23:58 PM by Daverz »