Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Vladimir de Kanel, Siegfried Lorenz, Alan Titus|
Beethoven: Complete Works [Box Set]
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Classical
A waste of money.
Michael Suh | 10/07/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In short, this box set is just awful. You can get it for even cheaper (about $90, shipping included) from a German mail-order company, but even at this price, it's not worth it.
The performances are poor and the sound quality is atrocious. Most of the recordings have a lot of static. They also use a large number of live recordings which adds coughing and clapping into the mess. Sound quality varies from works on a single CD -- one of the discs of symphonies has a decent sounding 5th, but the 7th is barely audible. After I turned it up, it almost blew out my car speakers when it cycled back to the 5th symphony. Don't be deceived by the big-name conductor -- these sound like rehearsal recordings. Mistakes abound and in general sound unpolished.
I listened to about a third of the recordings before I decided I was wasting my time. The Symphonies as a whole are passable, but only barely. The Violin Sonatas are absolutely terrible. They are live performances, and I understand some people prefer live for the "energy" a performer can sometimes bring to the table. These, however were some of the dullest interpretations that I've ever heard. I listed to 4 of them (#5 through 8) before I couldn't take anymore. The Piano Sonatas are bizarre -- they took whatever recordings they could find and mashed them together. They use 3 different pianists, and the ones that use Svatoslav Richter are live. On many of the discs, they use all 3 pianists for different sonatas and makes for a disjointed mess.
The Wind Music is a salvagable point, but the performances lack flair of any type. I took a sampling of 3 of the string quartets (early, middle, and late), and they were again dull with the subtle details missing from all the static. The Violin Concerto was so-so too, but again the static kills it. After listening to a particularly bad performance of Emperor Concerto, I gave up.
The CDs are organized exceptionally poorly. How on earth does Piano Trio 5 and 7 (which are incorrectly named, but no matter) end up Discs 44 and 45, but Piano Trio 6 end up on Disc 84 with a Quintet and Lieder?
You can find that anamoly and many many more by reading the index, a 16 page booklet with the list of works in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, about half of this booklet are Lieder and Folksong titles, rendering it halfway useless. Beside this booklet, there's no text, no librettos, no translations, no information as to what you're listening to, or any apologies as to why this box set is so shoddily contructed, organized, and executed.
I recently purchased the Brilliant Classics box set that was recently released, and it rises head and shoulders above this one. It's about the same price as this one so spare yourself the trouble and anguish of buying a box set full of sub-par recordings. The 60 CD Sony set is tremendously better even if you don't get the last 27 CDs of music. Just stay away from this one!"
Who could complain?
Mike Sobocinski | Lansing, MI | 10/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so I ordered this boxed set from Europe at a much cheaper price (even when S & H are added in) and I now own "the complete" Beethoven on CD! I have listened to the entire set and of course there is a range of quality but who could complain about having 87 CDs of Beethoven for less than $1 per disc? Most of the versions are quite serviceable or even very good.
I decided that there are some things that I really have to complain about, despite this being a good deal.
1. The tracks are often "run together" with absolutely no break being provided between them. Thus, as soon as one movement ends we often hear a new movement or even a new work (of entirely different character) starting up with no pause whatsoever!
2. Whoever wrote up the information on the disc sleeves apparently knew nearly nothing about classical music. The information about the timings isn't 100% reliable, it is common that fast movements with an introduction will be marked only with the tempo of that introduction (andante, adagio) instead of including the predominant tempo (allegro, presto, vivace), and the completeness of the set is difficult to verify due to the different numberings used in the Hess and the WoO listings.
3. Indexing is inferior - there's a general overview of the type of content on each disc, for a quick reference, but if one is looking for a specific work, it helps to speak German, and even then it's really hard to predect how they've classified things in the alphabetical German index. I went looking for a particular set of Lieder (Op. 48) and eventually found them listed under "Bitten" - how would I have known?? Other song sets are listed by the name of the individual song - I try to figure out where to find the songs in WoO 99 and they are split semi-randomly among two discs and then I have to do a web search to see why number 8 appears to be missing (My best guess at this time is considered part of WoO 119 and they didn't feel the need to duplicate it?). Then I can't find number 12 of the WoO 99 set at all! Maybe it's there if I scrutinize the tiny listings on each disc, or read through the entire 16 page index booklet? The only solution, I think, is to do just that - I have had to create my own indexes so that I can find smaller works in the set, based on catalog and opus numbers. What a chore!
4. The disorder of the set is a real problem for scholars. Ok, sure, if I want to listen only to the symphonies and concertos and overtures, like the average casual listener, there's no problem - those most popular works are all at the front of the set. But if I want to listen to the complete piano sonatas in order, a bit more searching is required. The real problem comes with more obscure works like WoO 99 (or, more specifically, all those works Beethoven wrote as an exercise for Salieri, in the transition from his early to middle period, numbered from 208 to 232 in the Hess catalog). That's when the problems of the set's construction become very clear. Perhaps things are disordered to cover up for some missing minor pieces, and this set really isn't complete? Did they think that listeners couldn't bear to hear the full sets of folk songs and other minor works at one sitting, and needed these tracks shuffled between discs, for listening variety? Did they have to piece these sets together from different performers and recording sources, and felt it was therefore simpler to place random partial clumpings of them on different discs? I do know that when I want to listen to particular collections of works from a specific year or genre, I have had to switch discs a great deal... in some cases only to hear a 30 second or 15 second micro-work (mini-songs or exercises or fragments) rather than having such things more reasonably organized chronologically, or at least by catalog number or at the very very least by not having the same song/dance or other collections split across multiple discs. There is a semblance of order preserved, but I should be able to listen to compendium works in their original order without having to switch between 2 or 3 discs! Ridiculous.
Thus, many things about the set are designed for a casual listener, it seems. However, can one really complain about having at least a practically complete box of Beethoven CDs for less than $1 per disc? This set has problems, but in terms of a listening experience it's still a very good value. On the other hand, there may be (and likely are) other boxed sets that have a much better organization, indexing, and recording quality than this one...without paying too much more for those benefits."