A genial conductor with a particular gift for French music, Charles Munch extended the Boston Symphony's glory years (begun under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky) into the early 1960s. Munch was so venerated that conservative Bostonians even declined to fuss over rumors that he was having an affair with his niece, pianist Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer; they wrote it off as part of his romantic French nature. Paradoxically, Munch was not precisely French. He was born in Alsace-Lorraine, which at the time (1891) was controlled by Germany and has long hovered between two cultural worlds. Munch himself benefitted from both French and German musical training, and his first important musical posts were in Germany…
"The virtuosity and unanimity of the VPO strings command the highest respect. The grave opening fugue, the brilliant scherzo and the impassioned finale sound terrific … a fabulous disc." - Gramophone
“this DVD brings compelling accounts of the master at work, visually as well as aurally. There is a powerful intensity to the Beethoven overtures and the opening of William Tell is beautifully done, with glorious playing from the Berliners…There is plenty of fascinating archival material to see; and within the maestro's obviously glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, he emerges as a musical communicator of warmth - and humour too. A most revealing issue.” (The Penguin Guide)
This is the start of a Beethoven Symphonies cycle (Nos. 1-9) with Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The Beethoven cycle of the 21st century!
3 Documentaries - In a one-hour-long film for each symphony Maestro Thielemann and Joachim Kaiser (Germany´s most famous music critic) discuss and analyze in an entertaining conversational exchange Thielemann’s interpretation, complemented by excerpts from rehearsals as well as comparisons of Beethoven cycles with Karajan, Bernstein etc. – no aspect of Beethoven’s symphonic œuvre will remain unaffected!
Barenboim is an excellent Wagner conductor, and it's a pity his ongoing series of Wagner operas is often forced to make do with less than splendid voices. All the more reason, then, to enjoy this excellent disc of overtures and preludes, all of which are played to the hilt by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and recorded in sound of superb amplitude.
The complete works of Beethoven on 85 CDs plus a supplement particularly outstanding recordings of the past on 15 CDs!
Including the 32 legendary piano sonatas, played by the eccentric talent of the century Friedrich Gulda
Karl Böhm's Beethoven is, on balance, the best complete cycle available from Deutsche Grammophon. This will come as a surprise to many, given the fact that the label relentlessly promotes performances by Herbert von Karajan (three complete cycles!) and Leonard Bernstein, but for quality of playing, as well as superb sound, these versions are just about unbeatable. And at a "twofer" price, the complete set on three pairs of discs is a terrific value. –David Hurwitz
This is one of the greatest recordings of the famous Ninth Symphony. It has long been overshadowed by Karajan's three recordings for the same label, as well as Bernstein's version with the same orchestra. But put them all on your CD player and compare, and this is the one you'll be coming back to. Böhm was the least glamorous of conductors, but he approaches the Ninth with messianic zeal and a fanatical gleam in his eye. The opening movement is a cataclysm, the sublime slow movement never loses its contemplative flow, and everyone involved simply sings and plays the pants off of the finale. If the final minute or two doesn't pull you right out of your seat, nothing will. Grab it while you can at this "twofer" price. It's a steal. –David Hurwitz
Karl Böhm's Vienna Philharmonic Beethoven cycle is Deutsche Grammophon's best kept secret. Not only is it the finest complete set of Beethoven symphonies in their catalog, it's also far and away the best recorded, and to make matters even more irresistible, it's also the least expensive (it's available on three "twofer" sets). These performances are typical: weighty, intense, powerful, and magnificently played. Listen especially to the (comparatively) neglected Fourth Symphony: if Böhm doesn't convince you that this is major Beethoven, then no one can.