Ultimate Beethoven Box set, Import
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|1. Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Symphony No.6 in F "Pastoral"|
|1. Symphony No. 9 in D minor "Choral"|
|1. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Piano Concerto No.5 in E-flat "Emperor"|
|1. Violin Concerto in D,* Violin Romance No. 1 & 2|
|1. Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor "PathÃ©tique"|
|2. Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor "Appassionata"|
|3. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Moonlight"|
Nothing but the luminous power of Beethoven, performed by the great orchestras of Chicago, Vienna and Holland and soloists Vladimir Ashkenazy, Claudio Arrau and Henryk Szeryng. Includes the complete Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor "Moonlight"; Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor "Path+ªtique"; Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor "Appassionata"; Symphony No. 5 in C Minor; Symphony No. 6 in F Major "Pastoral"; Symphony No. 9 in D Minor "Choral"; Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major; Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major "Emperor"; Violin Concert in D Major; Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in G Major , and more!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This 5 CD box set provides an abbreviated introduction to the music of Beethoven, and for that reason I really have to object to Decca's calling this an "Ultimate" set, because after all anyone wanting to have an ultimate Beethoven collection is going to acquire far more than can be held on 5 CD's!
But still, this is a way to dip your toes into the music of Beethoven (and for just a couple of dollars per disc, a bargain for sure), or even to supplement a collection that may not already include these particular performances (which is why I purchased it for myself), so how do the performances stack up?
- Symphonies - Beethoven composed nine symphonies, and this set provides three:
-- Symphonies #5 and #6 performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and conducted by Bernard Haitink. These were previously released as part of a Philips box set of all 9 symphonies and as separate CD's, and are excellent performances.
-- Symphony #9 is performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Georg Solti. This is a superb performance (see the reviews on Amazon: Beethoven: Symphony No. 9).
- Concertos - Beethoven composed five Piano Concertos and only one Violin Concerto, and this set provides two of the Piano works and also the Violin concerto, along with Beethoven's two Violin "Romances":
-- Piano Concertos #4 & 5, (see the reviews on Amazon: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major 'Emperor')
-- Violin Concerto and Romances (see the reviews on Amazon: Beethoven Violin Concerto / 2 Romances).
Piano Sonatas - Beethoven composed 32 piano sonatas, three of which are included with this set. These performances by Claudio Arrau, recorded in the 1960s, are very famous recordings and an excellent introduction to these superb compositions. (See the reviews on Amazon for the box set containing Arrau's performances of all 32 sonatas: Beethoven Complete Piano Sonatas, Collector's Edition).
For anyone who has an interest in these works or in these particular performances, this is a bargain purchase. Heck, the cost for this 5 CD set is about the same as Amazon's current price for any of the individual CD's I've mentioned above (and a couple are no longer available as individual CD's). This is a very high quality selection of music which can either provide you with an introduction to the works of Beethoven, or it can be a nice gift to someone who also may enjoy this introduction to these particular works.
Packaging is basic - the CD's are contained in five individual traditional plastic jewel cases, which fit into a lightweight thin cardboard slipcase. There are no liner notes; the paper insert in each CD lists only the composition, movements and timing, and the performers. No notes regarding performance dates or other comments regarding the performances, and nothing about the compositions themselves or the composers. This is just a very minimal package that delivers the CD's to you and does give them good protection. The notes below concerning the dates and venue of the performances were obtained on the Decca website.
Detailed contents for the 5 CD's (where possible I've also included links to where these performances are available separately on Amazon):
--- Tracks 1-4: Symphony #5 in C Minor, Op. 67: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, Conductor. Recorded April, 1986 at the Concertgebouw, Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands (studio recording). (previous releases: Symphonies 5 & 7)
--- Tracks 5-9: Symphony #6 in F Major, Op. 68 "Pastoral": Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, Conductor. Recorded April, 1986 at the Concertgebouw, Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands (studio recording). (previous release: Symphony 6 " Pastoral " / Egmont Overture)
--- Tracks 1-4: Symphony #9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral": Jessye Norman, Soprano; Reinhild Runkel, Contralto; Robert Schunk, Tenor; Hans Sotin, Bass; Chicago Symphony Chorus, Choir, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Georg Solti, Conductor. Recorded October, 1986 at the Medinah Temple, Chicago (studio recording). (previous release as mentioned above: Beethoven: Symphony No. 9)
--- Tracks 1-3: Piano Concerto #4 in G Major, Op. 58: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Piano, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta, Conductor. Recorded November, 1983 at the Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria (studio recording). (previous release: Beethoven: Piano Concertos, Vol. 1)
--- Tracks 4-6: Piano Concerto #5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73 "Emperor": Vladimir Ashkenazy, Piano, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta, Conductor. Recorded November, 1983 at the Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria (studio recording). (previous release: Beethoven: The Piano Concertos, Vol. 2)
--- Tracks 1-3: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61: Henryk Szeryng, Violin, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink, Conductor. Recorded April, 1973 at the Concertgebouw, Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands (studio recording).
--- Track 4: Violin Romance #1 in G Major, Op. 40: Henryk Szeryng, Violin, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink, Conductor. Recorded September, 1970 (studio recording).
--- Track 5: Violin Romance #2 in F Major, Op. 50: Henryk Szeryng, Violin, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink, Conductor. Recorded September, 1970 (studio recording).
--- Tracks 1-3: Piano Sonata #8 in C Minor, Op. 13 " Pathétique": Claudio Arrau, Piano. Recorded September, 1963, Bachzaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands (studio recording). (previous release for all three Sonata's included on this disc: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas)
--- Tracks 4-6: Piano Sonata #23 in F Minor, Op. 57 " Appassionata": Claudio Arrau, Piano. Recorded September, 1965, Concertgebouw, Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands (studio recording).
--- Tracks 7-9: Piano Sonata #14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2 "Moonlight": Claudio Arrau, Piano. Recorded June, 1962, Bachzaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands (studio recording).
that I have heard is quite mixed(Haydn symphonies sometimes compromised by quick tempi, great 1969 Magic Flute and Creation), but less problematic in the
Solti Beethoven that I have heard. Tempi in the Ashkenazy Beethoven concerti #s 4 and 5 are reasonable -so is VA, but they deserve
four stars because he lacks some necessary spirituality and poetry supplied, e.g., by Arrau/Haitink, Serkin/Ormandy,
and Larrocha/Chailly and Gilels/Sanderling. The Emperor is more successful.
The three works with Haitink/RCOA deserve five stars. His mid 80s symphony cycle catches him at white heat in #s 3,5,and 7-quick outer movements and well gauged interiors (see my reviews. #6 is quite lovely, recalling Erich Kleiber's RCOA reading. Winds are especially gorgeous. This is true also of the Szeryng/Haitink violin concerto and two Romances. The concerto is on the slow side but not soporific. I prefer the Grumiaux/Van Beinum RCOA version, but not by much.
Two of the three Arrau Beethoven sonatas deserve five stars: the Moonlight and Pathetique. For what is missing a bit
with Ashkenazy, try these Arraus. I would drop a star from his Appasssionata , finding it less mercurial and passionate than his 50s version now on EMI Icon. This set in toto is a great buy.
I have puchased many of these boxed sets, Chopin, Mozart, etc. You get 5 discs for the price of one disc.
On top of that, you get the 9th and 3 other cds for an awesome price.
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