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Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sir Colin Davis
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sir Colin Davis
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sir Colin Davis
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sir Colin Davis
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria
Egmont, Op. 84: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sir Colin Davis
Written: 1810; Vienna, Austria
Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21: 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21: 2. Andante cantabile con moto
Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21: 3. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21: 4. Finale (Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace)
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92: 1. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92: 2. Allegretto
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92: 3. Presto - Assai meno presto
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92: 4. Allegro con brio
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36: 1. Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36: 2. Larghetto
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36: 3. Scherzo (Allegro)
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36: 4. Allegro molto
Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93: 1. Allegro vivace e con brio
Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93: 2. Allegretto scherzando
Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93: 3. Tempo di menuetto
Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93: 4. Allegro vivace
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Better Than I Remember It October 25, 2012
By Mark Stenroos (Lake Forest, CA) See All My Reviews
"I first heard this set back in 1995 or so when it first came out. I was unimpressed and gave it away. Truth be told, Sir Colin Davis usually leaves me cold, and that includes his highly regarded Sibelius cycle with the BSO, a cycle that misses the Sibelius boat entirely, IMO, and with recorded sound that is simply sub-par, to boot. But tastes can change with time, and seeing this set on sale for $16.99 at ArchivMusic, I decided to give it another chance. It's definitely worth a listen as it features some of the most-gorgeous orchestral playing one could ever hope to hear. The recorded sound is also very fine, at least on this Philips issue (I haven't heard the Newton Classics licensed version). It's an up-close perspective with enough ambient mic-ing to give a nice bloom to the recorded sound. I do have a problem with the French horns sometimes sounding like trombones, but that's another story. The main problem one will have with the set are with the interpretations, which are far out of the HIP-informed norm we get these days from even major conductors leading the BIG bands of the world. Davis takes a very loving approach to each work, perhaps too loving. Example: the opening movement of the Eroica, where the initial "sforzando" markings in the winds and strings seem to be underplayed...until one realizes that Beethoven has marked the dynamic as "forte," NOT "fortissimo," and that Davis is playing those sforzandi in the context of a forte dynamic (and let's remember that forte means "strong," not "loud."). Once the orchestra swells to the fortissimo, Davis plays the sforzandi much more forcefully...or normally, if you will. That begs the question: does Davis miss the boat when the szorfandi appear in the forte passages, or, is he revealing a nuance that escapes most conductors? I think the answer to that depends on the listener. Overall, these are straight-forward, beautiful renditions of the symphonies. Tempi are generally on the slow side of what we hear these days, and I liked that. To me, they're worth hearing for that alone, a real tonic to the slash and bang approach we get from the HIPsters, or the pseudo-HIPsters (like Chailly). Do these recordings rank near the top? No, not at all. But they're not a total waste either. I will probably return to these recordings more often than I will to Chailly's Decca set, but that's not saying much as neither Davis or Chailly make my Top Ten in Beethoven Symphony Cycles. Certainly, they're leaps and bounds ahead of Rattle's awful set on EMI. I must report that the Ode to Joy Finale of the 9th is a real disappointment in this set. Davis is afflicted by perhaps the worst solo quartet ever, with a tenor who sounds like Dudley Do Right, a bass whose voice is as dry as a bone and a soprano whose tone is grating. The choir is underpowered and the whole thing lacks any sense of majesty. Davis plays a slight variant in the Minuet of the 8th that may escape the attention of most listeners (I mention it only because it's there, not as a point of recommendation). Sir Colin plays the triplet pick-ups in the basses in the Funeral March of the Eroica ON the beat, rather than ahead of the beat, which is a strange variant that just sounds wrong to me. There are any number of small variations from the norm in matters of articulation and balance throughout the set that don't seem to make all that much difference and that certainly do not amount to any kind of *statement* by the conductor. So I find myself liking this set better than I did 17 years ago, but not enough for me to give it more than this very qualified and specific recommendation - 4 stars, which is an average of 5 stars for the beautifully recorded orchestral sound and 3 stars for Davis' interpretation. Were it not for the beauty of the playing, this set would rate 3 stars from me, tops."
Davis' Capstone Beethoven Cycle September 8, 2012
By V. Guernon (South Kingstown, RI) See All My Reviews
"Although primarily known as a Berlioz, Mozart, and Sibelius specialist, Beethoven was an important part of Colin Davis' core repertoire. He first recorded Beethoven symphony was in 1961, when he recorded the Symphony #7 with the Royal Philharmonic, a recording that has remained in the catalog for most of the last fifty years. He subsequently recorded the Symphonies #1-#6, and #8 with the BBC Symphony in the 1970's, remade the Symphony #7 in 1975 with the London Symphony, and recorded the Symphony #9 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony in the 1980's. So this set, in effect, represents Davis' second recorded cycle of these works.
I compared the symphonies in this newest set with some of the earlier ones, and found that his basic approach to these works had changed little over the years. Davis favors lyrical flow and is not interested in making Romantic interpretive points. The approach to these works is basically classical.
Davis' tempos in this set are a bit broader than in his previous recordings. The problem is that the orchestra is captured in the very resonant acoustic of the Dresden Lukaskirche. Even when the orchestra is going like the wind, as in the finale of Symphony #7, the hall swallows up a lot of the rhythmic drive the movement.
From a strict performance standpoint, these are excellent performances in the Central European tradition, and represent a fitting capstone to Davis' long association with Philips records. In a less plushy acoustic, these may well have been considered among the great recorded cycles of the twentieth century."