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Beethoven: The Symphonies / John Eliot Gardiner [5-CD Collector's Edition]


Release Date: 03/30/2010 
Label:  Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog #: 001408302  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gilles CachemailleAnne Sofie von OtterAnthony Rolfe JohnsonLuba Orgonasova
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et RomantiqueMonteverdi Choir
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

‘It seems almost incredible,’ writes John Eliot Gardiner in the press handout accompanying this set, ‘that these, the most celebrated symphonies ever composed, are performed regularly from texts that correspond neither to Beethoven’s first nor last wishes, as evinced by the autograph scores or by the first printed editions with corrections in Beethoven’s hand.’

These new recordings have used Clive Brown (Fifth Symphony) and Jonathan Del Mar (all the others) to re-examine all the extant source material and to correct the ‘standard’ texts of Breitkopf & Härtel which, everybody assumed, transmitted the Urtext of Beethoven’s symphonies. The results are spectacular, like the recent cleanings of the Sistine Chapel or the
Read more Cappella Brancacci in Florence. Beethoven’s symphonies have emerged cleansed of wrong notes, wrong phrasings, wrong dynamic marks and even wrong tempi. The most glaring wrong tempo comes in the finale of the Ninth, with the alla marcia tenor solo, where the metronome marking which Beethoven dictated to his nephew, Carl, was misread so that the passage has always been taken far too slowly. (Details may be consulted in the exemplary booklet.) The most interesting, large-scale textual change concerns the Scherzo/Trio of the Fifth, now restored to its original form: scherzo/trio/scherzo/trio/transition to finale (this is the form in a set of manuscript orchestral parts corrected by Beethoven, now in the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde).

But a large part of the cleansing process must be attributed to the remarkable Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and the clear, incisive, taut readings it gives under Gardiner’s guidance. Again and again I felt as if I were hearing these warhorses for the first time. Never have Beethoven’s brilliant timpani parts seemed so aggressively original – even violent. Never have the woodwind and brass meshed so effortlessly with the strings: the balance of these CDs is impeccable.

On all accounts, therefore, this set is a triumph and certainly the most important Beethoven recording since the arrival of CD: important for getting the texts right (something we now regard as obvious in Haydn’s and Mozart’s symphonies); important for the revelatory sound of these original instruments; and especially important for the clean, unsentimental, brilliant readings by Gardiner and his orchestra. Not least, DG has given us a marvellously rounded, yet detailed sound, despite the fact that the nine symphonies were recorded at different times and places. Never was the advent of CD more triumphantly vindicated.
Performance: 5 (out of 5); Sound: 5 (out of 5)

-- HC Robbins Landon, BBC Music Magazine [1994] Reviewing DG 439-900
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gilles Cachemaille (Baritone), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Tenor),
Luba Orgonasova (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

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.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.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica": 1. Allegro con brio
Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica": 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica": 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 -"Eroica": 4. Finale (Allegro molto)
Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60: 1. Adagio - Allegro vivace
Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60: 2. Adagio
Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60: 3. Allegro vivace
Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60: 4. Allegro ma non troppo

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  5 Customer Reviews )
 Excellent collection October 19, 2013 By JAMES MALIN (COTTONWOOD, CA) See All My Reviews "Several years ago I purchased Beethoven's Third and Fifth Symphonies on a single CD conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. At the time I felt Gardiner's interpretation of Beethoven was outstanding. When I found the entire collection of all nine of Beethoven's Symphonies conducted by Gardiner at such a reasonable price, I jumped at the chance to purchase them. When the CDs arrived, I listened to all nine of Beethoven's great symphonies nonstop. This is by far, the best CD collection I have found." Report Abuse
 Gardiner Packs A Wallop!! August 15, 2012 By W. Brown (Centerburg, OH) See All My Reviews "One can never have too many Beethoven symphony cycles- but if one was to choose, this would be at the top of the list. This is a unique collection. For one thing, Gardiner uses an orchestra that utilizes period instruments. The sound is quite different than what most are used to hearing. Gardiner likes to take his tempos brisk and precise. This is a set that keeps one on the edge of his seat. Very exciting performances - grab this one!! Highly recommended!!" Report Abuse
 One of the outstanding Beethoven cycles July 22, 2012 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Although there have been many excellent collections of Beethoven symphonies issued on CD over the years, Sir John Elliot Gardiner's landmark cycle with his Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique must surely rank right at the very top of the list. Years ago, when the cycle was first issued and symphonies were also available on single disks, this reviewer bought the disk containing the 3rd and 5th Symphonies. On the CD booklet notes was a phrase to the effect... 'this is the stuff of which revolutions are made.' In this reviewer's opinion, it absolutely applies to the entire set of nine symphonies. At a bargain price, what an opportunity to acquire a staggering musical experience. Don't hesitate!" Report Abuse
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