Search - Ludwig van Beethoven, Kurt Masur, Neville Marriner :: Beethoven: Complete Overtures

Beethoven: Complete Overtures
Ludwig van Beethoven, Kurt Masur, Neville Marriner
Beethoven: Complete Overtures
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (39) - Disc #2


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Essential, but often overlooked, Beethoven.
Bob Zeidler | Charlton, MA United States | 04/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's a pleasure to find this Philips Duo "twofer" offering all - and I DO mean all - of the Beethoven overtures, in authoritative, sober and yet resplendent performances by Kurt Masur and his orchestra at the time, the famed Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Beethoven wrote only one opera - Fidelio - and, while it may have its share of dramatic flaws relative to works by those who specialized in the genre, it is true music drama full of heroic themes and equally heroic music. He wrote four overtures for the work (the three Leonore overtures as well as the Fidelio overture). Each in its way can be said to represent dramatic themes in the opera, and no one by itself captures the full essence of the work. (Interestingly, various conductors - including Gustav Mahler when he had been the music director of the Vienna Court Opera - have utilized all four overtures in the course of a single performance of Fidelio, to good effect one could imagine.)

Equally well-known as dramatic masterpieces are the overtures to Coriolan, Egmont and The Consecration of the House. Taken with the four Fidelio overtures, they serve notice that Beethoven lacked little, if anything, as music dramatist in genres beyond his symphonies. If proof be needed of this fact, one need only consider the effect these "mini-music-dramas" had on composers yet to come such as Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner and Mahler. Each in his way paid tribute to Beethoven's earlier works here.

If the remaining overtures don't quite live up to the qualities of the seven above, it is nevertheless good to be able to have Beethoven's complete works in the genre. And the various dance suites performed by Sir Neville Marriner and his Academy of St. Martin in the Fields make for entertaining fillers, providing for more than two and one-half hours of music.

Interested "fence-sitters" who are perhaps wondering about the sonics of these nearly-three-decade-old recordings need not let recording age get in the way of their purchasing decisions. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, Philips was at the forefront of recording technology and quality, and had perhaps the best analogue LP's on the market at the time. The beautifully burnished sound of the Leipzigers in their Gewandhaus home is captured perfectly. This at a bargain mid-price, and with Marriner's excellent performances of Beethoven's dance music to boot.

But get this for the overtures, and see for yourselves that Beethoven need make apologies to no one regarding his capabilities as a music dramatist.

Bob Zeidler"
An outstanding ? and essential ? Beethoven compilation.
Mike Powers | Woolwich, ME USA | 05/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This outstanding compilation contains all eleven overtures composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, and, in addition, a large selection of his dance music. It is a tremendous bargain for Beethoven lovers. The overtures are played by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, under the direction of Kurt Masur, and convey Beethoven's wonderful sense of the dramatic throughout. The 12 minuets, 12 German dances, and 12 contredanses, beautifully played by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields with Sir Neville Marriner conducting, show a lighter, wittier and more playful side to Beethoven which may not be widely known. This Philips Duo CD set is a wonderful listening experience throughout. Because it's the only compilation of the complete Beethoven overtures that I'm aware of, I recommend it as an essential addition to every lover of Beethoven's music."
Excellent performances by first class musicians.
Mike Powers | 10/30/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Essential listening for all Beethoven fanatics. All the overtures are here, even rarely heard ones like "The Ruins of Athens". A/D recordings from the early 70's are very well reproduced. Musicianship is high.The dances and minuets are not just filler but show thematic ties with some of the larger works. The liner notes are very well prepared and comprehensive. An excellent value !"