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I really like the Haitink/LSO set for most of the symphonies. The sound is a little dry but very clear.
But I didn't like the Vanska set either for performances or sound. I thought the conducting was glib and the orchestral sound was rather gray and muddy in multichannel. Then there is the dynamic range. On the recording of the 9th, when the volume level is set to be reasonably loud in a normal-sized room, the opening is inaudible. I have heard this symphony in live performances several times, and I never had trouble hearing the opening.
I've been a big fan of Haitink for a long time.
Where to buy these SACD's?
Thank you. I have ordered them. $33 for 6 SACD's, quite a bargain.
The Haitink/LSO Beethoven SACDs are available at PrestoMusic (pity; they were on sale for $21 last week), and back-ordered at arkivmusic. There may be other sellers as well.
We agree for sure ala Haitink's set. As for Vanska/BIS, I listen to hi-rez stereo tracks and find the sonics quite good for that set. Vanska adopts a chamber music-sized approach to the syms which I think is his nod to HIPP. He does use vibrato in the strings but judiciously. It just sounds right to me. I know from discussions with Robert at BIS that they don't do any dynamic range compression which places quite a challenge on home systems. There have been plenty of complaints on this forum about the wide dynamic range from BIS recordings. If you have a quiet room and a system that can handle the fff BIS recordings can be quite thrilling.
Can you explain what you mean by this phrase? I don't think Vanska used reduced forces.
I know that the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell operated like a chamber music group, in that players listened to each other. But their Beethoven is big-boned, including augmentation of instrumentation here and there.
Just checked the booklet photo that comes with Syms 2&7 release and it looks like no more than about 75 players. So, somewhat reduced forces.
The orchestra sounds smaller to me - certainly not of the size employed in their Mahler recordings. Section articulation (especially in the strings) suggests a smaller group as does the balance of strings with winds and brass. I like this approach but "big band" LvB works for me too. Barenboim's set with the Staatskapelle Berlin fits that bill nicely.
Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vanska. A boxed SACD set of the complete symphonies is usually available at a bargain price.
Vanska, baby! If you like Carlos Kleiber's approach to Beethoven's symphonies, you'll probably like Vanska - they are similar. The audio quality on all the Vanska/Minnesota BIS label recordings is outstanding.
Of course, you need the Kleibers as well, and Walter, Toscanini, Abbaddo, Bohm, Ansermet, Jochum, Boulez, von Karajan, Bernstein, Erich Kleiber, and Reiner. I know I'm forgetting a few. The only "bad" one I now of was the Bernstein perf after the fall of the Berlin wall, which I found ridiculously slow and self-indulgent. (Who you gonna believe, me or Bernstein? Don't answer that.)
You need 'em all, including those with awful sound, or transfers from 78's.
Here's a suggestion: pick a symphony (I'd avoid the 9th, because the choral movement almost takes it into different territory) and get all the recordings of it you can find. Listen to one each week, and *really* listen to it, phone turned off, in the dark, maybe twice. After you cycle through all the recordings, which will probably take half a year or so, start to re-listen to the different conductors to see how they approached it, what they brought out in it. When you're done, you'll be able to get *so* much more enjoyment from any performance of that symphony, it's really pretty shocking. There is no substitute for deep understanding of a masterpiece. Some say having a printed score helps as well.
"I'd crawl over twenty miles of bad country to listen to you pee in a tin cup on the telephone." (Jo Carol Pierce)
Yes, I probably spend too much time listening to the gear, rather than appreciating the music! I like your comment about developing a deep understanding of a masterpiece. I have the tools, but do I have the will?
I would also say the 62 Karajan and the 70's Karajan, but the only incarnations of those Karajan sets I'd recommend are the latest blu-ray re-masterings (Dolby Atmos in the case of the 70's Karajan - what an incredible transformation of what had been mediocre sound! See Kal's description of Dolby Atmos in the latest Stereophile.)
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