Search - Ludwig van Beethoven, Nat Johnson, Arturo Toscanini :: Beethoven: 9 Symphonies; Missa Solemnis (Box Set)

Beethoven: 9 Symphonies; Missa Solemnis (Box Set)
Ludwig van Beethoven, Nat Johnson, Arturo Toscanini
Beethoven: 9 Symphonies; Missa Solemnis (Box Set)
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 

     
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CD Reviews

A Revelation...really
Hank Drake | Cleveland, OH United States | 06/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For some reason my review below was not posted in its entirety. Here is the complete review...Like other listeners, I was skeptical when these new CDs were issued. My thoughts were that the early 1990s Complete Toscanini reissue was probably the best that could be humanly done to restore the very pinched and nasal sounding originals. Since I had already bought half of that set, I wasn't about to spend more of my hard-earned money on a marginally improved RE-reissue.I was wrong. In 1997, RCA totally reorganized and inventoried its massive vaults, which had been in disarray for decades. As a result, many original sources which had been declared "lost" were now "found." This new remastering is strikingly improved sonically over all earlier issues. Utilizing the best technology now available, RCA has also done the right thing by hiring a musician--conductor Ed Houser--rather than whiz-bang technicians to supervise the remastering. The NBC Symphony Orchestra now sounds better than ever before, with smoother strings, fuller winds, and less blotting out during fortissimos. Perhaps no conductor of the 20th Century has been as misunderstood as Arturo Toscanini, as evidenced by the critical backlash with which he was assailed in the years after his death. That criticism was partly in reaction to the equally unbalanced adulation heaped upon him during his lifetime. I remember once mentioning to an acquaintance my admiration for Toscanini's Beethoven and Brahms, and he shot back, "He conducts everything too fast!" In fact, in comparison with other recordings and broadcasts of his era, Toscanini's conducting was not generally faster than average. In relation to TODAY'S phlegmatic tempos, however, Toscanini's pacing is definitely brisk. But what most people are hearing as fast is, in fact, Toscanini's characteristic rhythmic vitality and, occasionally, drive, which brings the faster movements to sparkling life. (The finale to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is an example: the tempo is not unusually fast, but it SEEMS faster than normal because of the precise articulation and clarity.) Likewise, the slow movements are never dragged, and glow with Italianate warmth. It is worth noting that RCA has made one major change in this reissue of Beethoven Symphonies: the 1949 studio recording of the "Eroica," heard in previous LP and CD versions, has been replaced by the 1953 live Carnegie Hall version. RCA does not credit the liner notes, but they are reprints of Mortimer H. Frank's excellent notes originally written for the early 1990s CD release.RCA has so far only released Toscanini's core repertoire with the NBC Symphony--but they are more than welcome additions to the catalogue. The Maestro's recordings with the New Your Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra should also be remastered, post-haste. Then, RCA, which has given us magnificent reissues of Kapell and Rubinstein, should get to work and replace their thoroughly botched Vladimir Horowitz reissue from the 1990s, using this magnificent Toscanini reissue as a template."
Revelatory performances with greatly improved sound
pm444 | Okemos, MI USA | 05/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Music-lovers tend to have strong feelings about Toscanini: either they love him or they can't stand him, but few are neutral. Furthermore, even those critics who do not care for his (allegedly) driven Beethoven symphonies almost always use him as a reference point when describing other conductors. It is true that these recordings are hardly what you'd call relaxed, let alone relaxing. As others have written, it's not the kind of Beethoven that you'd play for background music. But that's part of their power: Toscanini demands active involvement of his listeners, and if you aren't willing to do that, you probably won't like these performances. They are noticeably brisker than many recent recordings. Some say that Toscanini's Beethoven is less "romantic" than other conductors, but I think that is an over-simplification. I find them to be refreshing, sometimes even challenging, but never unpleasant. This boxed set is a real bargain, including all the symphonies, several overtures, and "Missa Solemnis". The new remasterings are amazingly clear, with sound that far surpasses previous releases. BMG includes a bonus disc with examples of the old remasterings compared to the new, and you can definitely hear the difference. There's a broader, less constricted dynamic that gives a much warmer and more realistic sound, and makes these unique performances eminently listenable. A truly classic set at a very good price!"
A Revelation...
Hank Drake | Cleveland, OH United States | 06/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like other listeners, I was skeptical when these new CDs were issued. My thoughts were that the early 1990s Complete Toscanini reissue was probably the best that could be humanly done to restore the very pinched and nasal sounding originals. Since I had already bought half of that set, I wasn't about to spend more of my hard-earned money on a marginally improved RE-reissue.I was wrong. Back in 1997, RCA totally reorganized and inventoried its massive vaults, which had been in disarray for decades. As a result, many original sources which had been declared "lost" were now "found." This new remastering is strikingly improved sonically over all earlier issues. Utilizing the best technology now available, RCA has also done the right thing by hiring a musician--conductor Ed Houser--rather than whiz-bang technicians to supervise the remastering. The NBC Symphony Orchestra now sounds better than ever before, with smoother strings, fuller winds, and less blotting out during fortissimos.RCA has so far only released Toscanini's core repertoire with the NBC Symphony--but they are more than welcome additions to the catalogue. The Maestro's recordings with the New York Philharmonic and The Philadelphia Orchestra should also be remastered, post-haste. Then, RCA, which has given us magnificent reissues of Kapell and Rubinstein, should get to work and replace their thoroughly botched Vladimir Horowitz reissue from the 1990s, using this magnificent Toscanini reissue as a template."