The Horn

Contact Me

Receive Email Updates

Do We Really Need So Many Recordings Of The Beethoven Symphonies ?

  Decca records has recently released a new set of all nine Beethoven symphonies by the distinguished Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly , with the august Gewandhaus orchestra of Leipzig ,Germany , of hwich he is currently the chief conductor . So what else is new ?  There are countless sets of the Beethoven symphonies on the market , and quite a few which are out of print . Plus who knows how many which were recorded  individually , not as complete sets.

   Virtually every great conductor of the 20th century and the present one has recorded them , not always complete .  There are complete sets by such legendary names as Toscanini, Bruno Walter,  Szell, Karajan ,Solti
Bernstein , Klemperer,  Furtwangler,Solti , Karl Boehm , Willem Mengelberg , and  others who did not record all nine , such as Stokowski ,  Carlos and Erich Kleiber (father and son), plus more recent ones by such  eminent living or recently deceased maestros as Abbado , Muti, Gardiner , Mackerras , Norrington , Zinman, Barenboim,
Dohnanyi, Haitink, Harnoncourt , Rattle, and others .

   If you're looking for them complete or individually , where do you begin ?  The selection is bewilderingly large .
Do you want a recording by legendary maestros of the past despite the dated  recorded sound , or a recent one with
clear and vivid digital sound ? Do you want a recording on the instruments of the period , which have been revived in recent years by certain  specialist orchestras , or one with  one of the great mainstream orchestras of Vienna, Berlin, Dresden,Leipzig, New York, Chicago , Amsterdam etc ? 

   And  further , is it really necessary for so many conductors to record the Beethoven symphonies ?  There are so many of them. Some of them must be superfluous . The late Herbert von karajan recoorded the nine no fewer than FOUR times in his long and illustrious career , the last one in digital sound . These sets range from the 1950s to the 80s. 

   The answer is yes and no .  Maybe there are too many recordings, but  it's important that we have documentation about how the various conductors have interpreted these timeless masterpieces of the decades ranging  from the very first recording of the fifth by the legendary Artur Nickisch (1855- 1922)
nearly a century ago , in antiquated  acoustical sound , before the invention of electrical recordings in the 1920s to  such  prominent living conductors as Chailly , Thielemann, Rattle , and even  Gustavo Dudamel , who is only 30 years old , a baby by the standards of conductorial  longevity .

   The same is true of  the symphonies of other great composers such as  Haydn, Mozart , Schubert, Schumkann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Dvorak , Tchaikovsky , Bruckner ,Mahler , Sibelius, and Shostakovich and others .  There are countless complete sets of their symphonies plus individual ones .

   Again , we need  documentation of the way different conductors have performed them over the years .
But the good thing is that if you're a collector of classical CDs , you're not limited to  these famous established  orchestral masterpieces .  You can also  get recordings of  rarely performed yet  wonderful symphonies by composers such as Nikolai Myaskovsky , Franz Berwald , Franz Schmidt, Arnold Bax , Havergal Brian , Carl Nielsen , Karol Szymanowski , Albert Roussel , Alberic Magnard, Vincent D'Indy,
Sergei Taneyev, George Whitelfield Chadwick , Zdenek Fibich , Alexander von Zemlinsky ,
Paul Dukas ,  Carlos Chavez , Gheorghe Enescu , Alexander Glazunov ,  and so many other composers who  are not household names  but  definitely worth exploring .  Classical CD purchasers have never had it so good ! 

Posted: Nov 29 2011, 07:21 PM by the horn | with no comments
Add to Bloglines Add to Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web