Aug 20

Beethoven Complete Works, published by Brilliant Classics ?????

I now have four complete Beethoven series, including 1) The Deutsche Grammophone, 2) a series by the music publisher Amado, 3) a series put out by Sony, and now the 4) Brilliant classics series. The DG series was the most expensive and has the best recordings, by the best artists, such as von Karajan for the symphonies, Kempff for the piano sonatas, etc. This series by Brilliant was also able to maintain fairly notable performers and conductors, including Kurt Masur and the Leipzig orchestra for the symphonies, the Guinari string quartet for the quartets, etc. All of that was with 87 CDs for the price of barely more than $1 / CD. Outside of the DG recordings, I would have to put this as the best, some of the performances even excelling that of the DG series. As an example, I ran through the piano sonata #25 by five performers, including a)Alfred Brendel, who is one of my perferred performers, but felt him to be a touch distant and adynamic on this piece, b) Kempff in the DG series, the recording sounded a bit tinny, c) Daniela Rusa on Amado sounded very mechanical and rushed, d) Yokoyama on Sony, was not bad, but also recorded slightly tinny, and slightly missing in dynamism, and finally e) Gulda in this series, which was completely forward, vivacious, with a brilliant sound, definitely the best performance of the five. One other thing to mention–when one listens to a complete series, the songs are usually put at the end. Beethoven made songs in many languages including Polish, Italian, etc., etc., but also made many English songs, including arrangements of existing tunes. These are easy to skip over, but also reflect the absolute genius of Beethoven, in having intricate and most thoughtful accompaniments, which bring luster to an otherwise ordinary piece. The fact that Beethoven could make even British music sound nice is a marked salute to his genius. All in all, there is very little to complain about with this series, and for one seeking a complete Beethoven at a bargain price, this is definitely a first choice.

 

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