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Original Jacket Collection: Co [Box set, Classical]

Ludwig Van Beethoven Audio CD


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good as it Gets April 9 2005
By Hank Drake - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Originally issued on Columbia's budget label, Epic, George Szell's early stereo (1957-1967) cycle of Beethoven's Symphonies became legendary on its original release. Originally released one at a time, the cycle was later reissued as a boxed set, individually again in the late 1970s, debuting on CD in the 1980s, and in several incarnations during the 1990s. Now, for the 21st Century, Sony has created a lavish reissue.

Ever the perfectionist, Szell drilled the Cleveland Orchestra to within an inch of its life, and the result here is orchestral playing of immaculate perfection, with the various choirs balanced as if they were one soloist. Technically, there is no better Beethoven cycle on records, not from Maazel's and Dohnanyi's later cycles with the same orchestra, not from Karajan's Berlin Philharmonic, and certainly not from Toscanini's NBC Orchestra.

Toscanini bears mentioning here, because there are similarities of approach. Szell chooses not to let details obscure the overall structure of each symphony--though there are telling details in plenty. By the time this cycle was recorded, Szell had lived with these masterpieces for half a century, and it shows in the judicious tempi, straightforward phrasing, and architectonic grandeur.

Receiving its first CD release is the same orchestra's recording of Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus ballet, superbly conducted by Szell's assistant director, Louis Lane. Also included is Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, which was originally the B side for Beethoven's ubiquitous 5th. Since this is one of the finest Jupiters ever recorded, no complaints about breaking the one composer rule.

Sony's set reproduces the original cover art and sequencing (with once exception, the Overtures disc features two bonus tracks). Generally, the CDs are not well filled, however this is more than made up for by the superb documentation. The booklet contains the original LP liner notes (most of them by Klaus G. Roy, then program annotator of the Cleveland Orchestra), unfortunately whittled down. But, with a magnifying glass, one can read the miniaturized backs of the original LP covers. Sony's engineers have done an excellent job remastering the rather dry sounding original tapes.

For those encountering Beethoven's sypmhonies of Szell conducting for the first time, there is no greater starting point. For longtime fans, this set will impress with its refreshed sonics and deluxe packaging.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music Production At Highest Level Jan. 13 2006
By Jonson Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
No need to explain why Szell's Beethoven performances are exquisite - perfect balancing among instruments, expressive phrasing, unbelievable intensity, and oh yes, details!
But equal amount of praises should go to Sony's remastering engineers. You will hear a night-and-day difference from the old Essential Classics versions!

Just listen to the magnificent 9th. Szell and the Cleveland musicians give out their lives.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muscular, Great Sounding Symphonies Dec 24 2007
By MinnesotaMind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I own the Klemperer complete set of Beethoven symphonies plus a number of wonderful individual versions (Carlos Kleiber's 5th, Bruno Walter's 6th, Wilhelm Furtwangler's 9th), and yet this might be the finest sounding Beethoven symphonies. The quality of the remastering is phenomenal, the sound of each symphony is warm and detailed, better than many modern digital recordings I have. The nice part about Szell's (and the Cleveland's) interpretations is that they are strong but still nauanced enough that I can hear new things with every listen. All the same, the Cleveland Orchestra sounds absurdly triumphant in these recordings. I've heard many of the symphonies from the famous Karajan/Berliner Philharmoniker set and the Cleveland Orchestra puts them to shame. If you enjoy a thinner, sort of, effete Beethoven, the Karajan set is in order. But even better than the rock solid (but often too slow) Klemperer, these symphonies retain much of their beauty but they still sound revolutionary. As a newish (three of four years of collectiong and listening) fan of classical with a background in punk, rap, and hard-core, I actually felt a rush of adrenaline while listening to many of these. As a relatively minor side note--the packaging of this set is actually pretty cool. The 10 CDs come in a moderately sized box. But each CD is in a cardboard sleave designed with the LP's original artwork and cover. The back of each sleave retains the original essays and commentary from the LP jacket (though it's quite difficult to read). For some reason my sleave for symphony 8 and 9 was not factory wrapped, but it's a mere quibble.

This set is amazing. It will insure your love of Beethoven if it's your first listen, but it will enhance and deepen your indebtedness to him and Szell if you've already heard many.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Remastered Classic Beethoven Symphony Cycle From Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra Jan. 30 2007
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In the 1960s, there was no other orchestra in the world - including Karajan's Berliner Philharmoniker - which sounded as fine as the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell's magnificient direction. I am delighted that Sony has made this fine CD set available once more, using the latest digital state-of-the-art remastering, since I remember well from some old LPs I had of this Beethoven Symphony Cycle, superb performances of the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th symphonies from Szell and his crack precision ensemble of a symphony orchestra. I concur with others who regard this CD set as the best recorded by the Cleveland Orchestra of not only Beethoven's symphonies, but indeed, of any of the great 18th and 19th Century composers. This 1957 to 1967 recorded cycle will remain as one of the most important artistic legacies of the Cleveland Orchestra during Szell's tenure as music director. Moreover, I am willing to guess that this CD set may be remembered as the best Beethoven Symphony Cycle recorded during this time, even if others, most notably Karajan's early 1960s Deutsche Grammophon cycle with the Berliner Philharmoniker, have earned lavish praise from critics and fans alike.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best sound ever Dec 19 2008
By Robert A. Alps - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was first introduced to Szell's Beethoven in college in the mid-60's because another student who lived in the same rooming house had the set of LPs. I was just becoming fond of Bruno Walter's 5th with the Columbia Symphony when my friend put up an argument for Szell. A few years later, when I graduated and was married, I bought the Szell set. I have the Essential Classics CD set and now have purchased this set. When Sony started issuing SACDs they selected several Szell recordings, including the Beethoven 3rd. The remastering for SACD is through the DSD process, and that has been done for all of the recordings in this set. This means that they are ready for SACD release, which should allow us to get the greatest benefit from the remastering. The initial Sony SACD releases were not Hybrid (compatible with regular CD players). It would be great if Sony would release these recordings on Hybrid SACD (much as they have done with the RCA recordings). Until then, the regular CD release of the DSD remastering is still a benefit. These are all marvelous recordings, well worth revisiting.

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