Rattle: Beethoven - Symphonies (5 CD box set, FLAC)
Rattle: Beethoven – Symphonies (5 CD box set, FLAC)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Barbara Bonney, Birgit Remmert, Kurt Streit, Thomas Hampson
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Conductor: Simon Rattle
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 5 CD box set
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: EMI Classics
Size: 1.41 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

CD 01
Symphony No.1, Op.21, C major
01. I. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
02. II. Anadante cantabile con moto
03. III. Menuetto & trio: Allegro molto e vivace
04. IV. Adagio – Allegro molto e vivace

Symphony No.3 , Op.55 ‘Eroica’, E flat major
05. I. Allegro con brio
06. II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
07. III. Scherzo & Trio. Allegro vivace
08. IV. Finale. Allegro molto – Poco andante – Presto

CD 02
Symphony No.2, Op.36, D major
01. I. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
02. II. Larghetto
03. III. Scherzo & Trio. Allegro
04. IV. Allegro molto

Symphony No.5, Op.67, C minor
05. I. Allegro con brio
06. II. Andante con moto
07. III. Allegro
08. IV. Allegro – Presto

CD 03
Symphony No.4, Op.60, B flat major
01. I. Adagio – Allegro vivace
02. II. Adagio
03. III. Menuetto. Allegro vivace. Trio. Un poco meno allegro
04. IV. Allegro ma non tropppo

Symphony No.6, Op.68 ‘Pastoral’, F major
05. I. Allegro ma non troppo
06. II. Andante molto mosso
07. III. Allegro – sempre piu stretto – In tempo dallegro – Tempo I – Presto
08. IV. Allegro
09. V. Allegretto

Also available:  Ozawa: Bartok - Concerto for Orchestra, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (DVD-A)

CD 04
Symphony no.7, op.92, A major
01. I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
02. II. Allegretto
03. III. Presto – Assai meno presto
04. IV. Allegro con brio

Symphony no.8, op.93, F major
05. I. Allegro vivace e con brio
06. II. Allegretto scherzando
07. III. Tempo di menuetto
08. IV. Allegro vivace

CD 05
Symphony No.9, op.125 ‘Choral’, D minor
01. I. Allegro non troppo, un poco maestoso
02. II. Molto vivace – Presto
03. III. Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato…
04. IV. Presto – Allegro assai
05. V. Presto – Recitativo – Allegro assai – Allegro assai vivace (alla marcia)

much better than expected, given the other reviews….

I purchased this set with a little trepidation after reading some of the negative reviews here. I recently upgraded my stereo equipment and was looking for a modern recording which would have excellent sound quality. I am also a fan of Simon Rattle, so this seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

After I turned it on, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Comments about the sound being “thin and edgy”, with a “narrow soundstage”, were a bit off the mark. It does lean toward the bright side, but I think it is more from the effect of the hall than from bad engineering. From what I can hear, the Musikverein is fairly live and sounds more like LA’s new Disney Hall than the old Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (which has a muted tubby sound). A live hall will tend to accentuate the treble, so on a sound system which is already bright (as many speakers and amplifiers tend to be), it probably would sound a little overly bright. However, on a sound system which tends to be neutral to warm (as mine is, with Conrad-Johnson amplification and Vandersteen speakers), this recording sounds lively, detailed, and though a little lean, I cannot say it sounds edgy.

As for soundstaging, my feeling is that of someone sitting in the tenth row. While the breadth of the soundstage is not enormous (think first row), it is more than adequate. The soundstage also has adequate depth, which becomes more apparent when the timpani comes into play. However, what might be missing is soundstage height, which is why I feel like I am listening to the orchestra more edge-on than at a high angle.

One thing that puzzles me is that the cover says that these were recorded live; however, I didn’t hear a bit of audience noise. Maybe it was done in the hall in one take, but without the audience there? I don’t know. I didn’t hear one sneeze or cough.

In all, excellent sound quality combined with a refreshing (though not outlandish) interpretation. If you find the other Beethoven Symphony cycles boring, look into this one.

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