5 SACDs for the price of 2
The very first instalment, released in December 2004, caused the reviewer in International Record Review to state that ‘Vänskä's Beethoven looks set to be a front-runner among the historically unprejudiced cycles now available.’ After that each new release in Osmo Vänskä’s cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies with the Minnesota Orchestra has been treated as an occasion in the international music press; reviewers one by one discovering ‘one of the finest performances of the Funeral March ever recorded’, ‘a Pastoral of uncommon beauty’, ‘an Eighth of reference quality’ and a Ninth to ‘rank alongside the finest of any era’. The fifth and final disc – with ‘a Seventh that just may top them all’ according to one review – was released in 2008, and caused reviewers to start doing their sums. Among representative comments are the following: ‘a Beethoven cycle that stands with Barenboim's as a modern reference edition’ (ClassicsToday.com), ‘a Beethoven reforged for today's world’ (Gramophone), and ‘a magnificent traversal that seems very much of and for our own time’ (American Record Guide). A constantly praised feature of the series has been the sound quality, in both stereo and surround sound formats. About the first disc the reviewer on website klassik.com remarked that ‘one can hardly hope to hear such a many-layered sound until the next BIS release of Beethoven’s Symphonies - except for in concert’, while his colleague on ClassicsToday.com described the final instalment as having ‘brilliantly engineered, utterly natural sonics in all formats’ (ClassicsToday.com). The review in Fanfare sums it up: ‘Vänskä's is the preferred SACD traversal, and one of the most desirable in any format.’ Some of the greatest music ever, in electrifying performances and state-of-the-art recordings, is now available as a boxed set in full SACD / Surround Sound glory. And at a highly competitive price it even includes comprehensive liner notes by Beethoven expert Barry Cooper.