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Michael Gielen/SWR Sinfonieorchester: Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 7, 8, 9 [Import]

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Euroarts
  • Release Date: Jan. 18 2005
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B000765IIG
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xb5b1890c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5d92a50) out of 5 stars Great Professional Chorus in the 9th Jan. 11 2006
By HB - Published on
If you attend classical concerts in the United States, something you will probably never hear is a professional chorus. Symphony orchestras simply cannot afford to pay a chorus. Most of the time, amateur choruses do okay but they still sound like amateurs. In some works, like Orff's Carmina Burana, amateur choruses really struggle. In Europe there are some professional choruses and that is what you get here and the sound is simply amazing. The power, the intonation and great articulation are all there. The first time I heard a professional chorus was in Vienna when I heard George Szell conduct Beethoven's 9th with the Vienna Philharmonic and their chorus. When the chorus made their first entrance, I almost fell out of my seat. I had never heard such an incredible sound in my life.

If you love classical music, I would absolutely buy this DVD. First of all it is a bargain, cheaper than even the cost of the 2 budget CDs you would need to get all three symphonies. Michael Gielen is an outstanding Beethoven conductor. His first movement of the 8th is simply astonishing. He gets more humor out of that movement than Jay Leno gets in a whole week. And the orchestral playing is magnificent.

I found the first movement of the 7th to be somewhat lacking in vitality but the last three movements are tremendous. As for the 9th, it is very good, not the best, but more than adequate. Gielen's tempos are very quick and the music moves very nicely. What is missing is a sense of occasion. It is somewhat businesslike and performances of the 9th should be highly passionate.

Despite my reservations, this DVD is still a great bargain. Just think about this. In the 1940's, these three symphonies on 78RPM probably cost at least 20 dollars. That was one week's salary and the sound was bad and there was no picture. How times have changed.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5d9245c) out of 5 stars A Slight Falling Off from the Earlier Entries in this Series Feb. 8 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
I received all three DVDs of the Gielen traversal of the nine Beethoven symphonies at the same time and have already reviewed those that contain the first six symphonies. This completes the set. The orchestra is the same in all, the SWR-Sinfonieorchester (Baden-Baden und Freiburg)--although, in fact, as the series was recorded over a period of three years (1998-2000) some major changes in orchestra personnel are quite apparent. And by 2000 the trumpet players had traded in their Austro-German rotary-valve instruments for the upright piston trumpets more commonly seen in the U.S., Britain and France. And I believe I also notice a falling off of quality of playing by 2000, but perhaps that's a matter of occasion, recording or other factors.

The Seventh is an unexceptionable performance, the least noticeably unusual of the whole set, although it starts rather more slowly than most interpretations. Indeed, the first two movements feel a bit soft-centered, a bit gentle (not inappropriate in the second, I'd add), but then the third and fourth movement really get cracking. One notices that the timpanist, between movement two and three, has traded soft mallets for hard ones and perhaps that accounts to some degree for the seeming rhythmic tightening and the distinct infusion of excitement in the last two movements.

The Eighth, in my mind one of the least intimidating and certainly the wittiest of the Nine, is given a rather hard and unforgiving first movement. I was really rather startled by this and can't quite see the need for it. But the Allegretto scherzando second movement is miles more genial and things feel 'right' again. The rest of the symphony maintains that attitude, and there is wit to be heard as I believe Beethoven intended. I can't quite figure out what was going on in that first movement, but it certainly put me off. In fairness, I must conclude by saying that the finale is one of the best performances of it I've ever heard; wit combines with almost late-Beethoven features that I'd never quite noticed before. Nice touch.

The first movement of the Ninth is rather faceless, somehow; there is not as much drama as one expects. The Scherzo second movement sounds almost as if it had come out of the Sixth, a kind of peasant quality. Not necessarily bad, but a little unusual. The Adagio third movement is lovely. Strings shine here. The Finale is begun at, for me, a startling tempo. I know Gielen is one of those who believes we should take Beethoven's metronome markings literally, but his tempo is so fast that the basses and celli have to scramble to keep up, and although they snarl through it, it is unsettling. From there on we are in for an exciting and well-played and -sung finale. The soloists are unknown to me, but they are excellent, and particularly the bass, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, who looks to be very young, is destined for bigger things. He has a well-focused voice with plenty of heft and he manages the opening 'O Freunde, nicht diese Töne' with ringing tones; he certainly gets our attention for the Schiller verses to come. The choir, the Rundfunk Chor Berlin, is superb.

Overall, this whole series of performances (as well as their videography and sound) is excellent, but I feel there are some weaknesses in this final instalment and I can't give it five stars as I did the earlier DVDs. I have admired Gielen for years and this has confirmed my feeling that he is an underrated conductor. I'm just sorry there was a slight let-down in this last instalment.

One last thought: I am more and more convinced that the wave of the future for home enjoyment of classical music is via the DVD. Seeing as well as hearing a performance is definitely more satisfying. And one certainly gets more value for the money; imagine, three symphonies, a total of 141 minutes, with both sound and music, for the price of one CD!

Scott Morrison
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5b6bac8) out of 5 stars Mixed review July 12 2007
By J. B. Robert - Published on
Verified Purchase
I was driving along in Eastern Tennessee one day and listening to a small classical station out of Collegedale when they began playing Beethoven's 8th symphony. This is one my favorite pieces (go figure) and I never heard, either in person or on media, a more humorous and zesty performance. Eventually I called the station and asked who the orchestra/conducter was and, after they tod me, I ordered all three DVDs from Amazon. I was not thrilled with the 7th and thought it was somewhat lackluster, as were the first movement and a half of the 9th, then they got going. I found the 3rd movement quite moving and the 4th movement was simply magnificent although the tempo was a little startling at first. Because of this aerobic pace, I wondered what would happen when we reached the point in the 4th movement when orchestras generally show their fatigue but the SWR handled it with their usual vigor. I have always been a Gielen fan and I like the SWR although I think it is somewhat undersized. And that the senior tympanist looks like he belongs on the back of a Harley. One small complaint, the videographer sometimes has a bit of trouble distinguising who is playing what in the woodwind section. I love the DVD format. This is a great bargain!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5b82e64) out of 5 stars Perfect - For me, anyway Jan. 22 2008
By A. Roth - Published on
Verified Purchase
I never heard of this conductor or this orchestra, but you know what- this is exactly what I am looking for in a music DVD. Plenty of shots of players and their handwork. If this conductor is not flashy, he seems to me to be quite competent.
This is a great way of learning about a piece that you love- because the camera follows the sound so that you can learn to pick out the various instruments.
I am using these DVD's for pedagogy, and they are great.
This set beats the Karajan hands down- and for half the price!
HASH(0xb5b68978) out of 5 stars Beethoven--what's not to like? March 16 2012
By Steven J. Torrey - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is the third DVD in the Beethoven Symphony sieries. It contains a performance of Symphonies 7, 8, 9 in their entirety. I had the other two DVDs but not this one. Like I say: Beethoven: what's not to like? The conductor is Michael Gielen, with SWR Sinfoneirochester, Baden-Baden und Freiburg and recorded at the Konzarthaus Freiburg in the late 1990s. For 9th Symphony "Ode to Joy" <<An die Freude>> (sung in German, naturellement: Renate Behle, soparano; Yvonne Naef, contralto, Glenn Winslade, tenor; Hanno Muller-Brachmann, bass. There are excellent liner notes in English, French, and German. A good time is to be had by all.

Mozart, Telemann, Bach, Vivaldi, are all 'nice' to listen to. Beethoven must be listened to. Others feed, he sustains. As more than one person has pointed out, the Fifth Symphony speaks to something essential to the human soul: the question of why fate knocks at the door, and what that knock portends. (While Beethoven might have shunned such a reading, the reading is there nonetheless.) When Genesis 22--The Sacrifice of Isaac/Akida--is read as the Haftorah for The Book of Lamentations on the Ninth of Av to commemorate destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 586 bce and now to commemorate destruction of modern European Jewry at the hands of the Nazis, recitation of the Akida story is transformed from being about child sacrifice to a story being about what it is that the Deity asks, the profundity of His demands. Likewise with Beethoven: the audience is transformed by these symphonies because the soul of the audience is challenged by these symphonies.

To be able to watch these symphonies performed live, is a privilege.