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Old October 6 2008, 11:07 PM   #1
PKTrekGirl
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Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Today I was listening to Beethoven's 5th Symphony, for about the millionth time in my life. However, the difference today is that I just purchased the 1974 recording done by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Carlos Kleiber for Deutsche Grammophon. And all I can say is WOW!

I have at at least 3 other recordings of this symphony - one of them even a Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan outing. And I have always believed that von Karajan was 'the man' when it came to Beethoven.

But I gotta say - listening to Klieber's take on this symphony is truly a breathtaking experience. The 4th movement in particular is just...amazing. There are simply no words, really. I'm absolutely stunned. Transported, if you will. Technically flawless, for sure. But more importantly, I think he must have gotten every single ounce of passion out of that orchestra for this recording. My breath catches in my throat during certain parts, even on repeated listenings.

Anyway, this experience got me to thinking - have any of the other classical music fans on this board found a recording like this - one that is just so far above all the rest that it's in a league of it's own?

Tell me about your favorite recordings!
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Old October 7 2008, 01:00 AM   #2
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Wow, a Niner AND a music nerd? I thought I was the only one on here. lol.
I've always thought of the von Karajan recording as one of the definitive recordings - don't know that I've heard the one you're referring to.

I am secretly a lover of classical music and movie scores. I think I'm the only person running around with lots of movie scores on my iPod sometimes, coupled with classical music and contemporary Christian music. LOL.
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Old October 7 2008, 01:04 AM   #3
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

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Old October 7 2008, 01:06 AM   #4
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Another von Karajan fan here, but my favorite collection of all nine Beethoven symphonies is by the London Philharmonic under Josef Krips. And while the Fifth is always a treat, my favorite is the Seventh.
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Old October 7 2008, 02:43 AM   #5
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Despite the size of my CD collection, I don't own many different versions of any one piece. I've always preferred breadth to depth. But I do have some favourite discs.

Vivica Genaux's Arias for Farinelli is near the top of my list. Genaux provides outstanding performances of pieces that were originally written to be performed by the greatest castrato of his day. Pure vocal fireworks.

Similarly, Andrew Manze has recorded a brilliant collection of music for solo violin by Giuseppe Tartini, The Devil's Sonata.

Gyorgy Ligeti's Requiem, on Wergo, impresses me more every time I hear it.

Philip Glass's Akhnaten is probably my favourite modern opera. It was a commercial success, as well, so I'm surprised that it has only been recorded once.

I splurged a few months ago and bought a box set of chamber music by Arnold Schoenberg, performed by the Schoenberg Quartet. This was a terrific set, and well worth the money I paid for it.
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Old October 7 2008, 04:23 AM   #6
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Kleiber didn't make many recordings. My understanding is that he just rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed when he did. His 5th is considered the one to beat. The 7th on that album is fantastic, too. I have the SA-CD of this.

An album that I love as much for it's sonics and it's content is Charles Munch's recording of Daphnis et Chloé with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on RCA. It's a gorgeous work and the sound (from 1955!) is stellar.

Another knockout album is this album of Frederick Fennel conducting several pieces by Holst, Handel and Bach. Again, knockout sond and knockout music.

Neil
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Old October 7 2008, 08:30 AM   #7
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Barbirolli is easily the best interpreter of Mahler, IMO, and his recording of the 6th is not only musically superb but also technically the best recording of an orchestra I've heard, despite its age. At least, it is on vinyl; the cd sounds a bit tinny in comparison, sadly.
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Old October 7 2008, 11:01 PM   #8
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Thanks for the great responses, guys!

After I posted this thread last night, I started surfing the web and found this site here:

http://www.classicalcdguide.com/

Seems that I'm not by any means the first one to 'discover' Kleiber's take on Beethoven's 5th.

I have never looked at any sites like this before buying music - I may read the customer comments at iTunes or Amazon.com on occasion, but by in large I tend to look for orchestras/conductors that I've liked with certain composers in the past - von Karajan for Beethoven, Sir Neville Marriner for Mozart, etc. And I also look for certain artists that I've taken a liking to: Yo Yo Ma (Cello - of course), Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Andre Watts (Piano), Van Cliburn (Piano), etc. And then I've collected recordings that are perhaps not the best recording quality, but represent something special, like Rachmaninov playing his own works or old recordings of Enrico Caruso.

So anyway, do any of you guys have some of the recordings mentioned at that site? Are they really that good? I can vouch for their first pick, of course ...but I'm curious about some of the others. I'm gonna have to go through my collection and see how many of these I own.
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Old October 7 2008, 11:24 PM   #9
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

Indysolo wrote: View Post
Kleiber didn't make many recordings. My understanding is that he just rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed when he did. His 5th is considered the one to beat. The 7th on that album is fantastic, too. I have the SA-CD of this.
Yes. I also looked up Kleiber on Wikipedia and found this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Kleiber

Kleiber largely kept out of the public eye and reportedly never gave an official interview.[9] [4]. After his resignation from the Bavarian State Opera, his appearances became less frequent, and he made only a few recordings. Most of these are regarded as very fine recordings; his versions of Ludwig van Beethoven's fifth and seventh symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Symphony No. 4 (Beethoven) with the Bavarian State Orchestra are particularly notable. Other notable recordings include Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 4 and Franz Schubert's third and eighth ("Unfinished") symphonies, also with the Vienna Philharmonic, recordings of Dvořák's Concerto for piano and orchestra with Sviatoslav Richter, Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz, Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata and Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
And here is his ENTIRE discogrpahy:

I also read (I think at iTunes?) something similar to what you wrote - that he was a perfectionist and made so few recordings because he didn't want to record anything that didn't live up to his extremely high standards of perfection....and so about killed the musicians with rehearsals.

Interesting, because von Karajan, I have read, was just the opposite - he churned out the recordings. Most of his Berlin Philharmonic recordings I have are very good quality, but I guess he was even accused of trying to make some serious cash via recordings.

Interesting....

At any rate, I'm going to check out some of these other Kleiber recordings, if I can find them. I have the recordings of Schubert's 3rd and 8th...and Brahms' 4th and all are excellent. But in particular, Beethoven's 5th/7th recording is so out-of-the-ballpark good that I'm eager to hear more.

Do you have any of the above recordings? If so, what do you think?
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Old October 7 2008, 11:46 PM   #10
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

This:
1973 recording of Pierre Boulez conducting the New York Philharmonic is the absolute best of the Concerto for Orchestra I've heard.

Also the album of Complete String Quartets of Anton Webern, recorded by the Quartetto Italiano.


Indysolo wrote: View Post

Another knockout album is this album of Frederick Fennel conducting several pieces by Holst, Handel and Bach. Again, knockout sond and knockout music.
I've got that one. There's an older recording on the Mercury/Phonogram label of Fennel conducting the Eastman Wind Ensemble in the two Holst Suites, (E-flat and F) the Vaughan Williams Folk Song Suite and a Percy Grainger piece. The recording quality (from the mid-50s) may not be quite as high as the one you've linked, but I think the performance is far superior. It's hard to find, but look for the title "British Band Classics, Volume 1". (I think it was later reissued as a package with Volume 2, featuring works by Holst, Walton and Jacobs.)
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Old October 8 2008, 01:02 AM   #11
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

^ I'm going to try and listen to samples of those two Fennell recordings. I actually don't yet own any recordings of Holst's Suites - I have only a Leonard Bernstein/NY Philharmonic recording of The Planets. So I'm keen to grab the Suites. However, I see that on the recording Indysolo recommended they have included Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, and I think my recording of that is only so-so. Perhaps this album can give me an improvement....

I'll make a note of the Bartok too. I don't own much Bartok, surprisingly.

And while I'm at it, I'll see what I can find for Mahler's 6th. SoS recommended a recording of that further upstream and I have just now noticed that the only recording I have of Mahler's 6th is a live recording of the London Symphony Orchestra. Probably need to get a little depth there.

Finally, I looked up the Charles Munch Ravel...and this is what I found -

http://www.amazon.com/gp/series/8931...dition=audioCD

Seems that pretty much that entire RCA Living Stereo set is chock full of top-notch recordings.

Might be worth considering....

I already have the Van Cliburn Rachmaninov/Tchiakovsky entry in the set purely by accident, simply because I collect Van Cliburn recordings and Rachmaninov recordings. And it really is quite good.
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Old October 8 2008, 03:00 AM   #12
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

PKTrekGirl wrote: View Post
SoS recommended a recording of that further upstream...
I should mention that Barbirolli is often criticised for taking stuff too slowly. Personally, I think he gets tempi exactly right and that many people take stuff too fast, just so you know.
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Old October 8 2008, 03:12 AM   #13
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

ncc74302 wrote: View Post
I think I'm the only person running around with lots of movie scores on my iPod sometimes, coupled with classical music and contemporary Christian music. LOL.
No, you're not.

I like classical music, but not obsessed with different recordings. I prefer to find one that I like and invest in that. Sometimes the choice is based on the conductor and orchestra, and sometimes in the selections of works on an album. Fortunately, I've almost never been disappointed in my purchases. One album I have that pleased me a lot when I found and listened to it was Sir Neville Mariner and the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields performing all of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites (with the Violin Concertos for good measure). I don't think I could listen to any other recording.

It's interesting that this thread should start with Beethoven's symphonies; there are certain recordings I heard of them a long time ago, but never learned who they were by. Consequently, I've been searching for them for years. I've almost resigned myself to "settling" for Karajan's cycle.

There's a set of Tchaikovsky music that I'm tempted to get, and I'm wondering if anyone has heard/owns it. It's all the symphonies, a lot of the overtures, The Nutcracker Suite, and selections from Swan Lake, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.
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Old October 8 2008, 04:03 AM   #14
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

PKTrekGirl wrote: View Post
So anyway, do any of you guys have some of the recordings mentioned at that site? Are they really that good? I can vouch for their first pick, of course ...but I'm curious about some of the others. I'm gonna have to go through my collection and see how many of these I own.
The only ones I own are:

--Sir Adrian Boult conducting Holst's The Planets and Elgar's Enigma Variations;

--Trevor Pinnock conducting Handel's Messiah.

Those are both terrific.

I own recordings of many other pieces, but not the ones the site mentions.
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Old October 8 2008, 05:57 PM   #15
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Re: Classical Music Fans: Outstanding Recordings, anyone?

S. Gomez wrote: View Post
I like classical music, but not obsessed with different recordings. I prefer to find one that I like and invest in that.
I was for the most part like that for a long time. I'd try to make a good purchase the first time and stick with that - mostly based on the reputation of the conductor/orchestra. However, over the course of time I have discovered that, as good at Sir Neville Marriner is at conducting Mozart, for example, there ARE certain Mozart recordings out there that might be better. And I ended up wanting to listen to different ones for myself and making up my own mind. And the only way to do that is to buy the entire thing. You can't make a decision about an entire 40 minute symphony based on a few 30-second clips on iTunes. Or, at least I can't.

What actually spurred me on to purchase this Kleiber recording of Beethoven's 5th and 7th is that the Atlanta Symphony played the 5th the other night at a concert I attended. I noticed that they played the 4th movement ALOT slower than what I was used to hearing on the von Karajan recording I own (I had a couple of 'lesser' recordings as well - I just assumed von Karajan to be the 'standard' and so listened almost exclusively to that)....and I was really curious about that. So I went and did some reading and discovered that von Karajan takes that 4th movement at near warp compared to pretty much everyone else. I also discovered that, despite his repuation as 'the man' when it comes to Beethoven, that many people believe the Kleiber recording to be far superior. So I bought it to see for myself.

And in this case, 'many people' were absolutely correct.

I still think that for the most part, von Karajan is still 'the man' when it comes to Beethoven. But at least where the 5th and 7th are concerned, there are some major exceptions to that general rule. And I'm REALLY glad I 'discovered' this one.


It's interesting that this thread should start with Beethoven's symphonies; there are certain recordings I heard of them a long time ago, but never learned who they were by. Consequently, I've been searching for them for years. I've almost resigned myself to "settling" for Karajan's cycle.
Well, I have all of those recordings of the von Karajan/BSO renditions of the Beethoven symphonies. And for the most part, they are very good. In fact, I think one or two of them are listed on that website I linked to earlier as setting the bar for this symphony or that.

But not for the 5th and 7th.

There's a set of Tchaikovsky music that I'm tempted to get, and I'm wondering if anyone has heard/owns it. It's all the symphonies, a lot of the overtures, The Nutcracker Suite, and selections from Swan Lake, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.
'Fraid I can't help you there. I don't have any Tchaikovsky 'sets'. I do, however, have about 5 different recordings of the his Piano Concerto #1.
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