Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 87 CD boxset
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 22.7 GB
Vol.01 (CD01-05) – Symphonies
Vol.02 (CD06-10) – Concertos
Vol.03 (CD11-15) – Orchestral Works
Vol.04 (CD16-19) – Opera
Vol.05 (CD20-27) – Piano Sonatas
Vol.06 (CD28-35) – Piano Works (without Sonatas)
Vol.07 (CD36-39) – Violin Sonatas
Vol.08 (CD40-41) – Cello Sonatas
Vol.09 (CD42-46) – Piano Trios
Vol.10 (CD47-48) – String Trios
Vol.11 (CD49-51) – The Early Quartets
Vol.12 (CD52-53) – The Middle Quartets
Vol.13 (CD54-56) – The Late Quartets
Vol.14 (CD57-62) – Chamber Works
Vol.15 (CD63-64) – Wind Music
Vol.16 (CD65-67) – Lieder
Vol.17 (CD68-74) – Folksong Arrangements
Vol.18 (CD75-76) – Secular Vocal Works
Vol.19 (CD77-81) – Large Choral Works
Vol.20 (CD82-87) – Historic Recordings
Fantastic and Complete …
Normally, I would’ve taken a few months to go through this with a fine tooth comb and listen attentively to every detail before posting a review, but having picked out a few of the different pieces that I think most people are familiar with and paying attention, all my expectations were met.
In actuality … they were exceeded.
I spent the better part of the day listening to several of these discs on my Icemat Headphones and in my car and while at first, I was a little concerned about some of the sound qualities as there was variance between the recordings, with a little tinkering with my stereo equipment, everything worked out fine.
This `collection’ is exactly what it says it is and some of these discs actually register as other discs that you might be familiar with or already have in your collection. I placed several into my computer and the ID tags brought up the original album covers. I did compare one disc and found it to have the exact same recordings, so it’s no biggie. Just something to be aware of. It’s a complete collection of Beethoven, not a `previously unreleased set of recordings’ or an attempt of one studio with standard techniques presenting a collection, like a remaster. So don’t go into it with the wrong expectations. The liner notes do say that the recordings are between 1987 and 2007, and so far I haven’t found anything that would make that statement by the label inaccurate.
I’ve written a few Beethoven reviews before and as an amateur cellist, I’m in the group of listeners and casual participants who absolutely adore the “Ghost” Trio (Opus 70, 1 D major) above all else and have been a Beethoven fanatic most of my life. I’ve probably read the bulk of everything written and published that’s available within the English language, so I’m no slacker. Notice how I say `probably’ … I left myself some room.
I was incredibly moved listening to Dubravka Tomsic’s interpretation of Sonata 14, Op. 27, 2 C Sharp Minor – Sonata quasi una Fantasia, or rather `Moonlight’ for most of us. There’s always been a problem with that pesky notation on the sheet music “sempre PP e con sordini” and just how much a player wants to adhere to it. It seems tone-deaf academians typically like to ignore it, claiming the difference in the pianos and Beethoven’s hearing loss. From my estimation, most people play this piece as if it was written by Mozart and they play it with little pedal and much too fast. However, if you have appreciation for Bach and Chopin alike (especially Chopin), you’re most likely in the school of thought that will play the piece as the Maestro intended and that is with `heavy pedal’ as the instruction clearly states, and slowly, too.
Hearing this earlier today was like listening to Glenn Gould play the Goldberg Variations for the very first time. You just knew deep down that they got it right. Dubravka’s performance here is masterful. It’s also no mistake that when you Google her name, you quickly discover that she plays everything with passion first. There’s nothing robotic here.
Listening to Egmont, Pathetique, the Archduke Trio and several others made me realize that having – everything – in one collection wasn’t a drawback at all, but an excellent resource and a very nice way to rediscover some of these masterpieces again for the first time — and without having some of the same worn out renditions shoved in your face either. If you collect classical music, then you already know how this is. You may recognize many of the performers on the sleeves on this collection, you may only recognize a few or even none, but (so far) all are worthy and capable. Every piece that I’ve listened to so far has been recorded with great care and is comes across clean and balanced. The sound quality will not let you down and you’ll be pleased putting this into your collection. Personally, I feel this is a great way to package this music and should’ve been done long ago.
The only drawback I can find is the lack of a worthy booklet to accompany this box set. While there is an index, which is also printed on the inside of the box, fifty pages of text wouldn’t have hurt anyone. Discovering the collection process by the label and the amount of work put into the entire process is worthy of praising and should’ve been included.
I’ve also heard that some folks don’t like the all-cardboard sleeves that fit each disc. Some say that the cardboard has a tendency to scratch the disc when taking it in and out. My only suggestion here is to remove the disc slowly and pinch the top and the bottom of the sleeve to facilitate its removal. I actually prefer this method of storage over a bulky jewel case any day.
This a great box set of the Maestro’s work and is a must own for anyone who adores Beethoven or wants to.