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Musical Discussions
Topic: Ludwig van Beethoven "9 Symphonien"

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Posted by Alex Yakovlev on 03-17-2005

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Picked up a CD box at local Best Buy. Nine symphonies for $32. Recordings by Deutsche Grammophon, first released in 63. Karajan conducts Berlin Phylarmony.
Brilliand performance and very good sound.

Posted by Antonio J. on 03-17-2005
The ninth on that set is my favourite rendition, I like it better than the acclaimed Furtwangler's, but I suspect I should listen to many other ones....

Posted by Romy the Cat on 03-17-2005

The 1962-62 recording cycle of Karajan’s Beethoven were probably the best among few others that Karajan undertook. The 62’s cycles are Ok but nothing extraordinary. There were many-many other more interesting attempts by the different conductors to play different Beethoven’s symphonies.

It is interesting with Beethoven symphonies: the industry tries to package them into 9-symphonies bundles but I think it is a mistake. I do not know any of the 9-symphonies packages where all of the symphonies would be interesting-enough to justify a bulk-purchase. It always possible to find here and there a symphony that would stay above of anything else and most likely it will be within different contactors and perhaps within the different eras. However, and contradicting what I’ve said, if one would force me to live juts with one single 9-symphonies package then I would probably go for Rene Leibowitz version with Royal Philharmonic marvelously released by RAC for “Readers Digest”. All 9 Leibowitz’s symphonies are very far from best performances (probably with the exception of the Second Symphony). They all sound very “light” and not necessary as in-depth as some others conductors (no wonder that the Second was wonderful in there), almost up to the point of being like pop-music, but still I feel that it was reasonably combined cycle where all symphonies maintained a certain level, BTW very far form the worst level.

The caT

Posted by Antonio J. on 03-18-2005
3rd, 5th and 6th?
Lately I've been listening to Savall's 3rd it's interesting but I like better the Karajan's.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 03-18-2005

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I do not know, Antonio. The Beethoven’s symphonies are divert it would be difficult to point out a specific performance but rather an array performances:

3 - Toscanini, Schmidt-Isserstedt, Weingartner
5 - Carlos Kleiber
6 - Walter, Erich Kleiber, Boehm, Klemperer, young Bernstein with VPO
9 - Fricsay, Weingartner, Furtwangler’s wartime and Bayreuth form 50s, Toscanini end of 30s, young Giulini

The Cat

Posted by Antonio J. on 03-18-2005

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but I didn't expect your favourite 5th was Carlos Kleiber's. I don't know it and should.
Have you listened to a quite new Toscanini's set which has been sonically restored?

It's an RCA Red Seal re-issue.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 03-18-2005

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Yes, the Kleiber-son did my favorite 5th. It’s widely available along with the 7th – both are absolutely remarkable performances. The link that you sent: I do not know which Toscanini's Beethoven on it - the 1937-38 or 1952-53. I think his 1938 version of the Fifth was more interesting then March 1952 but I generally am not a big Toscanini enthusiast. I think after you hear Carlos Kleiber it might be the end of any doubts how the 5th might be played. At least it was for me.

The Cat

Posted by Antonio J. on 03-19-2005

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Thanks Romy, I'm getting one of those renditions by Carlos. Any better sounding, or most remarcable edition?

You should post some day your preferences/obsessions about conductors making great works of specific composers. I mean something like "I generally like the way Barbirolli conducts Brahms" or "I'm not a big Toscanini fan, but I like his Beethoven and Verdi". Or perhaps right the other way, something like "if you want to start into Bruckner you can try any xxxxx's rendition which will be at least interesting". That would be very helpful for begginers like me ;-)


Posted by Romy the Cat on 01-29-2006


if you still care bout the Beethoven’s symphonies then here is a sexy lead for you.

There are many-many releases of the celebrated psychedelic performance of the Ninth by Furtwangler’s in 1942. Probably the “Music and Art’s” was the best release attempt on CD. Still, if you wish to get it analog then try to find the “Unicorn Records” release – it is insultingly good and well worth ANY amount money to pay for it. I do not think that any more powerful reading and performing of this work ever was committed to recording media and the “Unicorn Records” release is the best mastering among a dozen attempts that I was exposed to. (Including the Japanese mastering in 1996 and the Green Hall’s CRU series “The True Sound of Furtwangler”.). It is spresd accros 3 side of the albom and it is... very very high qulety of sound. It is speeds across 3 sides of the album and it is... very-very high quality of sound. If you looking for a REAL High-End then you will not find anything "higher"....

The Cat

Posted by Alex Yakovlev on 01-30-2006
 Romy the Cat wrote:
...if you still care bout the Beethoven’s symphonies then here is a sexy lead for you...
Thank you, I'll try to locate one.

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 03-01-2006
...I nominate Mengelberg's as the finest overall. Unfortunately it does not include his utterly transcendent studio recording of the Sixth.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-27-2006

 Paul S wrote:
…. No, I can’t get Beethoven’s 9th just right, but then I don’t presently aim to.  Call me a quitter, but I just mostly gave up quite a few years ago… 

 Romy the Cat wrote:
… There are many-many releases of the celebrated psychedelic performance of the Ninth by Furtwangler’s in 1942. Probably the “Music and Art’s” was the best release attempt on CD.… 

I think I would expend little on the subject. The Furtwangler’s 1942 performance was issued by countless labels. Sine, I so love this B-IX I have probably a dozen different LP pressing of the performance and probably a dozen of different CDs. It is very difficult to find a properly sounding CD of the B-IX Furtwangler’s 1942. In fact all of them are garbage, completely ruined but the sound engineer’s “best intentions”. Still, there is one absolutely wonderful CD that I very much like. The “Music and Art’s” has a number of the releases of the performance, including one, absolutely unique. It was remastered in 1990 and was available for a short time as CD-653. It is still pop up her and there and it has as good sound as the 1942’s “Magnetophone” could be. Find it and play it anywhere you wish – table radio, crapy car sterios, computer system… it will “sound” very good everywhere…

For further "education" I would suggest to read a wonderful article  by Peter Gutmann:

and in the end … here is the actual footage (!!!) the bottom of the Beethoven’s 9th, 1942, Berlin, March 22-24 concert

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by hagtech on 12-27-2006
What a concert that must have been.  So Romy, how do you handle the EQ issues?  The early discs must have been in ffrr or some other non-riaa turnovers.  Or are all the discs re-issues that have been remastered?


Posted by Dominic on 01-31-2007
There's a bunch more filmed
beethoven on youtube. The Karajan performances are really well presented, the 5th is really cool. Check it out even if you despise Karajan's earlier 5ths, the cinematography and drama of the filming is great.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-09-2007

Posted by guy sergeant on 08-31-2007
I spent some of yesterday listening to the 8th and 9th from this set. 


Recorded in mono by RCA in the early 50's I really like these performances. As a bonus the recording quality is good too. Does anyone else know them?

Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-31-2007

Hm, I never knew that this set exists. The well-celebrated Leibowitz session with Royal Philharmonic was recorded in spring 1961. It was truly nice cycle and the Reader Digest subscription, as most they press, was a perfect environment for this box set to be released. The surio recording was beautiful, the Leibowitz made Beethoven to sound “exiting”, sometimes overly exiting. I particularly like the “hipper-exitment” from this set on the earlier symphonies, with the Second probably the very best I ever heard. The entire Leibowitz cycle was licensed from RCA by many companies, in CDs and LPs and even Chesky released them.

What however is very strange is that you have mono box set. RCA begun to record stereo commercially in 1954-1955 and during the first years they recorded some performances in stereo AND mono at the same time. There are many of them around from 1954 to 1958 and it is auditable that the microphones even were positioned differently. What however surprised me was that RCA did it in 1961 during the Leibowitz session. Unless you say that it is a different recording session from the one that was recorded in 1961 sessions. In such case I never have seen/hear that album…

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by guy sergeant on 09-01-2007
Looking at this set there is no date anywhere on the box, in the booklet or on any of the red labelled gold writing discs. Also I've always found with records of approximately this vintage, if they are in stereo, they tell you about the wonders of it, everywhere! There is no mention of it anywhere.  One of the photo's in the booklet shows the conductor and the bases of 3 mike stands.  I was guessing at the age from the weight & stiffness of the vinyl used and even from the paper on the labels.  They could well be early 60's or a little later, I don't really know.  It was just an assumption, perhaps an incorrect one. I'm just listening to No7 now and its another fine performance.

Posted by Ronnie on 09-02-2007
I had to take a look at this thread... I've played the few Beethoven symphonies that I have today. one 5 and two 7.

After 1 LP side of Böhm/Berlin I couldn't stand anymore and actually thought "what a stupid symphony!".
I decided to give Carlos Kleiber a chance and... I have to play it again. This is just amazing! I have no idea how much is the performance and how much is the recording. Both seem unearthly good.
Interesting to hear that he did a good #5 too. Very interesting. I only have one Karajan.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-02-2007

Yep, the Carlos Kleiber’s Beethoven 5 and 7 are pretty much attachable.  If you for a first time came across to a “better performances” then you might imagine how different might be experiences if you catch a “better performances” live.

BTW, the Beethoven 7 record that is shown at the photograph above is not the good pressing. That is the Deutsch Gramophone’s Privilege Series – I never was able to make them to sound good. The have very good vinyl mass - the surface not is very low but it is about it. The sound of the  Privilege Series is almost like a bad digital… If you do not have earlier pressing then I would go for the DG’s CD production – the earlier releases of “The Originals” Series. They had very good sound in 90s

Rgs, Romy the Cat

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