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The Best of Beethoven

October 1, 2011

At dinner this evening, Rocky’s daughter reminded her father that he’s been promising to buy her a CD with all nine Beethoven  symphonies — for months. Rocky’s a terrible procrastinator. Especially when it comes to spending money.

Admittedly, some kids want iPads. And some kids want  new cars. And other kids want a shopping trip to Abercombrie & Fitch.  Rocky’s daughter wants the complete symphonic works of Beethoven, which is both  financially much less demanding and slightly amusing.

But — it’s not so simple. There are actually more Beethoven recordings than Baskin & Robbins’ ice cream  flavors…

There’s Von Karajan — with his iconic 1963 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (digitally remastered so only one’s hair dresser knows for sure that it’s actually analog. )

And there’s Leonard Bernstein. With his “idiosyncratic” 1960’s recording with the New York Philharmonic.

And there’s John Eliot Gardiner with a 2010 recording by the Orchestre Revoltionnaire et Romantique.  (but that sounds FRENCH. Ugh!)

And the list goes on and on and on and on….Amazon has dozens of choices … Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony, etc etc etc.


[Disclosure: Rocky picked  the Von Karajan Deutsche Grammaphon recording, and purchased it from a vendor who undercut Amazon’s price! P.S. Rocky’s daughter has no relation to Linus.]

  1. allocator
    October 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Rocky, you’d better nip this in the bud now. Next thing you know she’ll be having her friends over listening to all kinds of loud Chopin – waltzes, mazurkas, … etudes! And then there’s the opera and the ballet – Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky … what are the neighbours going to think? You’ll be patiently trying to explain to her Bon Jovi, but you’ll be getting Puccini. These things can get out of hand. Just sayin’. 🙂

  2. October 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    A friend sent Rocky the following:

    an interesting post while browsing my usual web haunts re the best Beethoven symphonies. i thought i might add my 2 cents…i love beethoven and have quite a few collections of all 9 symphonies.

    I cannot more highly recommend Sir Simon Rattle’s recordings with the Vienna Phil – simply epic, especially the 6th. His recordings with the VP and Alfred Brendel of B’s Piano Concertos is also amazing (vic doesn’t like Brendel -though i took him and Susan last year as a “thank you” gift to see the Vienna Phil with Lang Lang at carnegie hall, but i don’t think he thought lang lang was all that great either!).

    Fortunately, EMI has recently bundled all the symphonies together with the first 2 of said piano concertos and Fidelio


    in australia, this is just $20.99…curious to know what arb Apple gets to run on iTunes!

    Rattle is currently conductor of the Berlin Phil and they are at the very height of their game right now. Rattle has the technical precision and meter of von Karajan but with so much more feeling, tone colour and flow…in other words, a bit more heart. Every time I have seen them live, they have floored me. K and I had the great joy of seeing them for 3 nights at the Salzburg Easter Festival a couple of years ago and those performances are etched into my mind.

    Also….Barenboim’s collected 9 symphonies is my second fave (also 20.99 on iTunes)…8th symphony / movement iv with the Berlin State Cathedral orchestra has such zeal for life…Barenboim breathes pure Beethoven like no one else IMHO.


    Finally – the Berlin Phil plays all their concerts live in HD from Berlin (and archived) via the web in video and audio…for 150 euros for a 12 month subscription you get the best seats in the house…every single concert and event with lots of informative interviews etc with the principals, conductors etc. the season only recently started and they have a great programme this year.


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