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Discussion: Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 - Haitink

Posts: 48
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Post by Edvin October 4, 2006 (11 of 48)
The whole cycle is a winner and I think this will be a classic set. I can´t stop listening to it. Haitink is mor senstitive to nuances and also has a greater grip of the symphonic whole than Vänskä - and the Vänskä is excellent.
I echo Polly Nomial´s two words: Buy it.

Post by krisjan October 8, 2006 (12 of 48)
Well, based on the very positive reviews this set has been getting, I popped for the set using the CD Universe link. It arrived in two days with standard shipping! I've listened so far to Syms 3, 1 and 5 and I must say I am blown away! These are really great performances AND recordings! I like to close-in, somewhat dry recording because it lets you hear all of the inner details. For fun, I listened to the final mvmt of Sym 5 of the Vanska SACD right after the Haitink. These are actually very similarly performed but the close-in sound makes the Haitink more exciting. WOW. I am glas I bought the set. Now I just need to find time to listen to the rest.
Mark

Post by Big Al June 30, 2007 (13 of 48)
And you can get this set for £19 at the moment in the HMV sale - one of the bargains of all time?? (I have no connections to HMV by the way...)

Post by SnaggS July 2, 2007 (14 of 48)
Well, I was going to order this, after reading all the estatic reviews. However, I think they might only represent one end of the spectrum. My classical mentor when asked the question said it was dreadful, the LSO is a second rate orchestra for german works.

I asked him to pull the disks out again and give it another listen.. his comment?

"bad orchestra and bad conductor"

Maybe somebody else can chip in. In the meantime, I bought the Karajan box set instead.

Daniel.

Post by Edvin July 2, 2007 (15 of 48)
I think it would be wise to replace your mentor.

Post by SnaggS July 2, 2007 (16 of 48)
Edvin said:

I think it would be wise to replace your mentor.

you'll have to be more specific than that... do you think its all good or just the Eroica?

Daniel.

Post by Edvin July 2, 2007 (17 of 48)

Post by SnaggS July 2, 2007 (18 of 48)
Edvin said:

I think it would be wise to replace your mentor.

Given your comments, I passed my "mentor" a link to this thread. He doesn't get involved in internet forum discussions but said I could paste his comments if I wanted. I wish he would, since I've always found his comments to me incitefull.

------------

ok
since they are talking about the Eroica
i'll go pull that out and have another listen
wait a sec
....
actually the eroica is not too bad
but still not as good as the abbado or the karajan ones
he has a sense of occasion here
but i'm still lisening to the first movement
orchestra still sounds emasculated
no balls
drums sound like toys
hmm, they might be using original instruments
let me check
doesn't say
....
on to the 2nd movement now
it's lightweight
if i'm right, and it is using original instruments
they can make up for it with a more nimble performance
the good thing about this version is the top to bottom clarity
you can hear what everyone is doing
but the other conductors do a better job of highlighting the important bits
e.g. the clarinet section of the closing moments of Kleiber's 7th are very prominent
on the Haitink, much less so
he gives all the instruments equal prominence
and i still don't like Haitink's phrasing
....
get the Abbado
it's the best modern version, IMHO
but there are individual performances that are better
he is brilliant at times
he's more staccato, most conductors treat it with more legato
the instruments still don't sound as good as most other orchestras
the recording quality is excellent
this recording has a sense of occasion, missing on some of his other recordings in the series
see
this recording, you can hear each individual drum beat
most other orchestras make it sound like rolling thunder
if you know what i mean
something about that drum that doesn't punch hard enough
but it's the orchestra in general
the celli don't have enough bass
the violins are thin
the wind section is the most comparable to the best German orchestras, but unfortunately Haitink doesn't let them shine
the tempo Haitink has selected is on the slightly faster side, but not as fast as Abbado. He's faster than Klemperer, Walter, Bohm, and even Karajan and Furtwangler
he doesn't communicate the grandeur of Beethoven, or the idea of universal humanity, as well as the Germans do

Post by Windsurfer July 2, 2007 (19 of 48)
SnaggS said:

you'll have to be more specific than that... do you think its all good or just the Eroica?

Daniel.

Daniel,

If you are a regular reader of this forum, you will know that I have "gone head to head" with Edvin on more than one occasion. That said, I think I agree with him more than I disagree with him.

I heartily recommend the Haitink Beethoven, but with some reservations concerning the sound. Still, even where the sound "lets down the performance" I think each of these is worth having, even though none (except perhaps the Eroica) would be my choice for an "only" recording. Like Edvin in other circumstances, your "mentor" as regards these recordings is a little too impressed with his own opinion - not open to something new. That is why Edvin's advice as to your getting a new mentor seems not to be too far off the mark.

There is a certain thinness in most of these recordings that is (no doubt) a byproduct of recording live at the Barbican. It has nothing to do with the truly EXCELLENT London Symphony Orchestra! Haitink's interpretations are revelatory and it appears that your mentor is not ready for the revelation, or if listening in stereo, he can not get past the frequently aberrant nature of the sound.

I have all Nine and I enjoy them all - but my favorites (as of now) are the Eroica and the Fourth. In multi-channel, the sound is NOT something I can not get past and is actually mostly quite enjoyable.

If you want Beethoven and can afford these and recognize they will not be the only set you will want, by all means purchase them .... just recognize you might (and I emphasize that word "might") need to make some mental adjustments concerning the sound. For me its a recognition that something isn't quite the way it should be but I certainly do not let it get in the way of my considerable enjoyment of each of these performances.

There is a prevailing rightness to the wind timbres that I find very compelling. More compelling than any other Beethoven symphony performance I can remember hearing in more than 50 years of listening. The only exception I can think of is the Seventh wherein the Kleiber on Orfeo - not DG - is the one to have if you are limiting yourself to only one. I could never do that from the outset a little more than 50 years ago. People would shake their heads at all the Beethoven symphonies I collected on those big black 12 inch discs. But I would think to myself: "How could one possibly do with only one view of Beethoven?

Again the Eroica is simply superb!

Bruce

Post by Edvin July 2, 2007 (20 of 48)
SnaggS said:

get the Abbado
it's the best modern version, IMHO

The VPO or the BPO?

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