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Complete Symphonies Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Performer: Staatskapelle Dresden; Blomstedt; Dose; Schiml; Schreier; Rundfunkchor Leipzig; Chor Der Staatsoper Dresden
  • Composer: Beethoven Ludwig Van
  • Audio CD (June 26 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Bri
  • ASIN: B007NCP86E
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,319 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

'Herbert Blomstedt's Beethoven cycle with the Staatskapelle Dresden is one of the great ones, as much for the magnificent playing of this finest of all German orchestras as for Blomstedt's effortlessly musical interpretations.' 10/10 for artistic quality and sound quality. David Hurwitz,

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This set is off most peoples' radar. But it is one of the most musical sets of Beethoven symphonies around. Consistently high quality of playing by the Dresden orchestra throughout. Sure, the 1963 set by HvK and der Berliners gets all the fame, but this set really makes a run for the money. Nos. 3,5, and 9 are especially good, not syrupy and romanticized like some other discs. As close to raw Beethoven as you can get at a price that's hard to beat!
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Obviously Beethoven is well known for his 9 symphonies and these symphonies have been recorded frequently. If you want an inexpensive collection of them that is also excellent across the board, this collection is a good choice. Short of picking up the best individual recordings of different symphonies, you can't go wrong with this.
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This set met my expectation.. Skeptical at first, having listened to Blomstedt's 9th but, overall, a well done performance. A keeper.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews
79 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven as it should be Dec 26 2012
By W. Evans - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Have you ever listened to a Beethoven symphony that was too smooth sounding? Maybe the accents and dynamic of the score weren't being paid much attention to. The performance was just a performance and not really what Beethoven had intended his audience to experience. Beethoven was quite the revolutionary and after him everything changed. Nothing remained of the old musical word. Yes, it did take some time but not long after his death, his music was being performed at almost every music venue in Europe. That pretty much has continued to this day world wide. Complete recordings of his symphonies abound. And this is one of them. Great in conception and execution and performance. This little white cd box from Brilliant Classics with the nine Beethoven symphonies, conducted by quite possibly the greatest Beethoven conductor of his generation, Herbert Blomstedt conducting the Staaskapelle Dresden, quite possibly the finest Beethoven orchestra anywhere are contained in this little unassuming 5 cd case. These are exciting, engaging awesome performances and if you love Beethoven, you owe it to yourself to get this symphony cycle. The audio is upfront and crystal clear with a wide deep sound field. Alas, no booklet is included but after all this time who needs one. Not to be missed.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb cycle with matching interpretation and sound! April 6 2014
By Joseph Kline PhD, MD - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Recorded between 1975-1980. All are ADD; none were recorded digitally. NO BOOKLET INCLUDED! Each symphony's track listings are on each sleeve. Good dynamics. Clean interpretations. Music is somewhat compressed such that dynamic range isn't as wide as today's recordings. Peaks are a bit congested. Notes on some of the individual symphonies are given in the order presented, e.g. Symphony 1 is couple with 3 on the same disc.

#1. Played well without being romanticized with retards, etc. More like something from the Classical Period as it should be. I've heard better Firsts.

#3. The Eroica is not particularly special. In fact, the orchestra sounds like a smaller ensemble but perhaps it was scaled down to a size more appropriate to Beethoven's time. An alternative explanation could be layed at the feet of the recording engineer. At any rate, it doesn't sound very heroic or intense. The 2nd Movement and the Poco andante of the 4th Movement are lovingly and beautifully played. The 3rd Movement Scherzo and Trio are played with less urgency than commonly heard. Oddly, the 4th Movement sounds a little more like a full-sized orchestra.

#2 & #4. Full orchestra sound arrives with the 2nd Symphony. Very well played in a more Classical style as still appropriate. The 1st Movement gives a glimpse of that melodic and rhythmic motif later to be heard in the Ninth Symphony. I suspect that since these two symphonies were recorded later than the 1st and the 3rd, they benefitted from the engineer's learning curve. The Second's Larghetto is sweetly played. The final movement is perfect in every way aside from the mild congestion on peaks that occurs and is so common in recordings from the days before DDD. Beethovens transition towards romanticism is heard clearly in the 4th Symphony. It's 1st movement is exemplary and gets a strong urgent reading followed by a characteristically sweet Adagio. The 3rd and 4th Movement tempi are conventionally quick. The sound and precision of the orchestra are impressive.

#5. Somewhat less intensity and urgency in the 1st Movement (and 3rd and 4th) compared to Carlos Kleiber (but who ISN'T less intense and urgent than Kleiber). Still a beautiful reading. Once again Blomstedt gives evidence of heart in the slow movement which is lovingly played and at times majestically when appropriate. Just gorgeous! The 3rd Movement like the 2nd is one of the best I've heard - virile, majestic. The 4th Movement explodes onto the scene with a glorious sound wall that totally befits Beethoven's 5th.

#6. With Blomstedt already giving proof of his ability to impressively convey Beethoven's lyrical moments so well, the success of the 6th Symphony comes as no surprise. This was the first Beethoven LP that I bought as a junior high school student. I loved it then as I do now. This may be Blomstedt's greatest achievement in the series. Strings just shine. Beethoven loved his walks in nature. So does Blomstedt. The approaching storm hints ominously before it arrives with power (and claps and rumbling of thunder), then gives way to the sweet aftermath so well depicted by the woodwinds and flutes followed by strings and finally horns. You easily get the sense that Blomstedt enjoyed the 6th Symphony!

#7. Beethoven musical depth was clearly evident by the writing of his 7th Symphony. This is a magnificent reading, full of feeling and power. It is difficult not to be moved by Blomstedt here. Try holding it back when the explosion of horns occurs at the 5 minute mark. The 4th Movement erupts in a blaze of glory. What it must have been like for LVB to have that music in his head. There is some clicking artifact in the recording in the 4th Movement. It wasn't my speakers as it occurred when I played it back at low volume. I think this was recorded or remastered at too high a volume. The tympani are not clearly defined nor as prominent as they should be.

#8. Beethoven was less dramatic in his even-numbered symphonies. In the Allegretto scherzando the Staatskapelle Dresden shows off its ability to play fleet-footedly. The 4th Movement, not one of my favorites (and I'll bet not one of Beethoven's as well) concludes... finally.

#9. Beethoven's final symphony begins with a long crescendo leading up to an appropriately powerful announcement of its importance. The 2nd Movement is known to all thanks to the team of Huntley and Brinkley. The tympani are perfectly recorded unlike in the 7th Symphony's 4th Movement. Blomstedt again shines in the sublime 3rd Movement. The complex final movement includes the closest, most natural recording of basses I have ever heard - almost too raspy. Soloists are excellent and the chorus, so vital to the movement, are superbly recorded with perfect balance between the chorus, soloists, and orchestra. This is unquestionably one of the finest 4th Movements I have heard in five decades of listening to the Ninth, and it alone is reason enough to purchase the cycle.

In general, Blomstedt's tempi in the faster movements are a bit slower that those taken by most other conductors but give the listener the opportunity to savor the beauty more than most interpreters allow. The sound is superb except perhaps in the earlier-recorded First Symphony. There is slight congestion in some particularly loud peaks but otherwise, the sonics are extraordinary for the age of these recordings. Blomstedt's readings are difficult to beat and the sonics belie the cycle's age. Highly Recommended!
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plush renditions, superb in the slow movements March 1 2014
By Autonomeus - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Herbert Blomstedt, the Swedish conductor, become the Chief Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden in 1975, where he stayed until 1985. This was unusual given that Dresden was in the DDR -- East Germany. More unusual, Blomstedt was (and remains) a devout Seventh Day Adventist. He was leading the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in the same period (1977-1982), so he must have been quite busy. According to the Berlin Classics liner notes the SD, which chose Blomstedt, "was never looked upon very favourably by the ruling party."

The Staatskapelle Dresden is one of the world's oldest (founded in 1548) and finest symphony orchestras. It was certainly in prime condition from 1975 to 1980 when this Beethoven cycle was recorded. The recordings were made in the acoustically excellent Lukaskirche in Dresden. So the sound is magnificent. Blomstedt's interpretations, however, are not very exciting. The tempos are slow, and tend to sound sluggish when more dynamism is called for in the fast movements. It is in the slow movements that Blomstedt and this fine orchestra shine. The Adagio of the Third, for instance, is very moving in stark contrast to the more famous Karajan/BPO 1962 recording. In the Ninth, the Molto vivace is clumsy where it should be dazzling and light on its feet, but the Adagio is one of the finest I've heard, just incomparably lovely.

For Beethoven in a similar traditional vein I prefer Gunter Wand's cycle with the NDR Hamburg orchestra, recorded in the late 1980s. Perhaps the best, though, is the more recent cycle from Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

This is the latest in a series of Brilliant reissues of this cycle. It was originally released by Berlin Classics, and its most recent box, in the Brilliant style with the discs in cardboard sleeves, is also still available, with a booklet including liner notes.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Beethoven Set June 27 2013
By JohnK - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This modestly-priced 5-CD set of Beethoven symphonies is my current favorite. Herbert Blomstedt, an underrated conductor who has spent much of his career in central Europe, always seems to pick just the right tempo for each movement and gets his superb orchestra, the Dresden Staatskapelle, to rise to all the big moments in these familiar scores. The analog recordings from the late 1970's are excellent, with the woodwinds realistically balanced in the orchestra (not spotlit as in many other cases). There are no notes included in the set, nor are there any overtures. Though there are many other options for these symphonies, this set is a superb reference - and it comes at bargain price to boot!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Rank Aug. 2 2013
By ken100 - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Grammophone Magazine gave this set a 10/10 for performance and sound quality. I agree. Excellent and at a budget price, too.

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