Various Artists

Onyx Classics: Beethoven

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This three-disc set is called Beethoven, and, unsurprisingly, it contains works by Beethoven. Beyond that, however, it's anybody's guess what criteria were used to select the works and the performances on these discs. On the first disc, there's a way too quick, way too light, and way too sloppy performance of the Third Symphony with Zdenék Kosler leading the Slowakische Philharmonie. On the second disc, there's a slightly too quick, slightly too light, and not at all sloppy performance of the Fifth Symphony with Anton Nanut leading the Ljubljana Radio Symphony Orchestra, plus a wonderfully bright, marvelously light, and altogether delightful performance of the First Piano Concerto with soloist Dubravka Tomsic, deftly accompanied by Nanut and the Ljubljana. On the third disc, there are sweetly graceful performances of the two Romances for violin and orchestra with an unidentified soloist, accompanied by Pierre Narrato leading the Orchestre de Festival Belgique, followed by powerful and lyrical performances of the "Moonlight," "Waldstein," and "Pathétique" sonatas with another unidentified soloist who sounds a lot like Tomsic. In nearly every case, there are dozens if not hundreds of better performances of all these works available, many of them at bargain prices. For modern alternatives: try Szell and the Cleveland's Third Symphony, Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic's Fifth Symphony, Richter and Münch's First Piano Concerto, Grumiaux and Davis' Violin Romances, and Kovacevich's Piano Sonatas. Onyx Classix's sound is as variable as the performances, with a too-distant Third Symphony, a too-close Fifth Symphony, a just-right First Concerto, warm-sounding Romances, and cool-sounding sonatas.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major ("Eroica"), Op. 55
1
14:37
2
16:33
3
6:15
4
12:26

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 5 in C minor ("Fate"), Op. 67
1
7:24
2
11:04
3
5:23
4
8:59
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
5
17:47
6
12:01
7
8:52
blue highlight denotes track pick