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Listen What the Cat Dragged In: Thielemann's Vienna Beethoven

available at AmazonL.v.Beethoven,
The 9 Symphonies,
C.Thielemann / WPh / A.Dasch, M.Fujimura, P.Beczala, G.Zappenfeld
Christian Thielemann's Beethoven set first came out on Blu-ray and DVD (C major / Unitel) which was, along with Weinberg's "The Passenger", reason enough to finally get into Blu-ray. The picture of the Blu-ray set does look fantastic, indeed so much that it is almost worth watching the performances, rather than (just) listening to them.

Still, I generally prefer pure audio listening (and many homes are set up with better audio-only equipment, relying on perfectly inadequate TV speakers for sound that accompanies pictures), and so I'm very happy to see the cycle out on CD. Thanks to their new-found relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic, Sony jumped to the occasion and issued the set as a belated Christmas present to Beethoven-lovers on December 27th.

The first impression: The packaging is marvelous. Similar to the Chailly Beethoven-set on Decca, it's a thick book with page-sleeves... generous with pictures and text. Better yet, it is bound in white cloth and—this distinguishes it from the Decca release which comes in a comparatively flimsy paper slipcase—the slipcase is also bound in white cloth with bold magenta, gold, and white-on-white lettering. Minor, superficial details, perhaps, but all the same an asset for those who cherish haptic pleasures. Handling the set is a joy. The symphonies are spread over six CDs (no overtures included) and one 45-minute "Making van Beethoven" German/English documentary that strikes me like a luxury trailer for the DVD/Blu-ray set.

L.v.Beethoven, Symphony No.4, 4th Movement (excerpt), Christian Thielemann, WPh, Sony 7927172

I am still going through the performances to gather more definite impressions, but I have already come across several gorgeous highlights on the Blu-ray that I am looking forward to re-encountering on CD. What is evident throughout is that the Vienna Philharmonic plays for "CT" like they do for no other conductor.