You'll want your own too
, November 25, 2001
Reviewer: A music fan
from Guilford, CT USA
Having grown up an avid fan of Bernstein's Young People's Concerts I was thrilled when I ran into this recording. The music is fabulous and the "lectures" are fascinating, edifying and very understandable. Everyone I've played this for agrees and wants their own copy.
A stunning achievement!
, January 26, 2001
from Santa Barbara, CA
Except for the 9th symphony, I have never been able to get into Beethoven, or any of the "romantic" composers (such as Brahms) who followed him. (For the record, my favorite composers are Mozart, Stravinski, and Ives.) Still, it seemed there had to be something more there than I was capable of understanding. With Mozart, I have found that I greatly prefer "period instrument" performances, and so formed the opinion that modern conducting and performance practice is often to blame for obscuring a great composer's intentions. I was therefore intrigued to learn of these Beethoven performances at Beethoven's clearly designated tempos.
Well, I am stunned! I *love* them! The 5th and 7th have suddenly become two of my very favorite pieces of music, and I can't get the last movement of the 7th out of my head (not that I want to!). I was so surprised by this that I assumed I must have previously just listened to mediocre performances, so I went out and got the Kleiber than everyone raves about. There's no comparison, in my view. Kleiber's tempos are closer to (what we now know is) the real thing, but still lean way too far in the direction of pretension and monotony (not to mention the awful mid-70s DG sound).
If you love Beethoven, you can now hear what he wanted you to hear, with great Telarc sound. ... If you don't love Beethoven, give these a chance, and maybe you (like me) will change your mind.
, January 14, 2000
Reviewer: Santiago Barcon
from Mexico city
I had the pleasure to meet Ben Zander last year when he came to Mexico.
Ben talked about this new, and more important, real way to Beethoven. He is right, the 5th is a protest and he does a wonderful job.
Don't miss also Zander's Mahler's 9th.
Music lovers: don't pass on this one
, December 28, 1999
Reviewer: A music fan
from Atlanta, GA
I already owned a half dozen performances of LVB's 5th and 7th symphonies by some acclaimed conductors and think Zander's performances of each symphony rate with Carlos Kleiber as the best performances I've heard; sound on this disc is easily superior to the early 70's DG Originals disc by Kleiber.
This recording is worth purchasing for the commentary disc alone, which is fascinating; Zander discusses the symphonies movement by movement (with excerpts of the music to illustrate his points) and the reasons for his "controversial" decision to adhere to the tempo markings Beethoven wrote in his scores. I find his arguments to be completely persuasive: after all, the same conductors who claim that Beethoven's tempo markings are too fast in places such as the first movement of the 5th (allegedly due to a faulty metronome) turn around and conduct the music FASTER than Beethoven's marked tempos in other movements when it suits their fancy.
I'm looking forward to Zander's completion of the Beethoven symphonies (have read elsewhere that Telarc committed to the entire set) and hope Telarc continues to include explanation discs from Zander. I'd love to see this concept carried over to more recordings. Congratulations and thanks to Zander and Telarc!
Don't pass this opportunity up!
, December 28, 1999
Reviewer: A music fan
from Arizona, USA
This recording, as everyone points out, is much closer to what Beethoven had in mind when he wrote it. But more than that, it is exciting music! Play this for some rap-infested kid and watch him get excited. This makes Beethoven much more appealing because it is probably closer to the rebellious feeling he intended rather than the grave version we have always heard (DADADADUUUUUUM). This moves and shakes. I have his Mahler 9th and it is great too. Zander is recording the whole Beethoven symphony set under Telarc. I can hardly wait!
, November 30, 1999
Reviewer: Andrew M. Klein
from Washington, D.C.
Zander somehow has been hiding from us all these years. He is plainly one of the conducting giants of our time. I have not yet heard enough of his recordings to say more than that, but if he keeps making me gasp for breath as he unfolds music afreash that I thought, after many,many hearings, I already knew, I shall have to heap even greater praise on him than I do today.
Foremost, be warned: Zander follows Bethoven's own metronome markings -- the speeds at which he wanted his owrks played -- with precision. As a result, much of what you will may sound hurried at first, and in some cases less weighty (though this is rare). You also will hear voices in the muisic that, for whatever reason, other conductors have deemphasized -- almost hidden -- for the sake of stressing something else that they (and we) are used to hearing.
Very soon, you will wonder what on earth other conductors have been doing all these years ignoring Beethoven's instructions as to tempo and burying various of the parts -- warping and changing what the Master wrote and how he wanted his works to sound. It is an astounding experience. A revelation!
How many times have each of us heard Beethoven's Fifth Symphony -- often referred to now a "war horse"? Fifty times? A hundred? And how many different performances under the batons of how many different conductors -- or the same conductor but with two or three different orchestras? Well, take a chair before trying this one. It will come near to making you forget all the others you've heard before.
The performance of the Seventh is equally stunning and affecting, but that is music not quite so ingrained in our psyches (mine at least) as the Fifth. It is more complex, difficult music -- harder to hold entirely in one's head. Still,in every movement there are things I have never heard the same way in anyone else's approach.
This is a must. Don't delay. Get it now.
, November 27, 1999
from Fargo, ND
These performances of Beethoven's symphonies are definitely different that what we've heard for many years. The first time I heard them I was taken back and appalled, but they grow on you. And after listening a few times you start to hear how good the symphonies sound at Beethoven's tempo markings. Zander also does an excellent job in discussing the symphonies. An excellent buy.