This is the latest and, they tell us, the last of EMI’s Simon Rattle Edition, gathering together the conductor’s complete forays into certain composers and repertoire. As with any such project the sets hitherto released have contained both treasures and duds. Even though not everything here is perfect, this set sends the series out on a high with his complete Vienna recording of the Beethoven symphonies.
Recordings of all the Beethoven symphonies with their chief conductor are always a milestone in the artistic work of the Berliner Philharmoniker. So it was with Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado, and expectations are correspondingly high for this cycle conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Where does the special status of these symphonies come from? Simon Rattle has an explanation: “One of the things Beethoven does is to give you a mirror into yourself – where you are now as a musician.” In fact, this music contains such a wealth of extreme emotions and brilliant compositional ideas that reveal the qualities of the orchestra and its conductor as if under a magnifying glass.
The Karajan Official Remastered Edition comprises 13 box sets containing official remasterings of the finest recordings the Austrian conductor made for EMI between 1946 and 1984, and which are now a jewel of the Warner Classics catalogue.
English conductors, including Thomas Beecham, John Barbirolli, Anthony Collins, and Colin Davis, have an excellent track record recording the symphonies of Jean Sibelius. Thus, when Simon Rattle first took a shot at Sibelius with his 1981 recording of the Fifth with the London Philharmonia, hopes were high that the next generation of English Sibelius conductors was ready to take up the torch.
Though some musicians rerecord the same repertoire, refining the same concept over time, Alfred Brendel's Beethoven concertos change significantly with every go-around. One of the defining influences in this latest go-around is conductor Simon Rattle. He's one of the stronger minded and truly collaborative conductors that Brendel has ever had, and his bent toward historically informed performance inspires the pianist to a radical reevaluation, resulting in interpretations that achieve a new level of cogency over his previous take.
This is a Beethoven Symphonies Cycle of the 21st century! Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1 – 9 incl. and each DVD includes a one-hour-long documentary for each symphony.
Includes an hour-long documentary for each symphony where Maestro Thielemann and Joachim Kaiser (the most famous German music critic) discuss and analyze in an entertaining conversational exchange Thielemann’s interpretation, complemented by excerpts from rehearsals as well as by comparisons of Beethoven cycles with Karajan, Bernstein etc. – no aspect of Beethoven’s symphonic œuvre will remain unaffected!
Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his period orchestra, Concentus Musicus Wien, never recorded a complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, and this 2016 Sony release is their only recording of the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, made almost ten months before the conductor's death. Harnoncourt planned for this to be his last recording before his retirement, so it inevitably has the feeling of a valedictory performance, and one can also hear it as the orchestra's warm tribute to its leader and his sterling musicianship.