Item description for The Life and Works of Beethoven (Classic Literature with Classical Music) by Jeremy Siepmann...
This is part of a series of musical biographies, written and presented by broadcaster Jeremy Siepmann with Bob Peck as Beethoven. In this four-CD set, the life and music of the revolutionary composer/pianist is unveiled in considerable detail with many musical examples.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Life and Works of Beethoven (Classic Literature with Classical Music)?
A study in genius with its blessings and drawbacks Aug 14, 2001
Naxos is doing a wonderful job with its emerging "Life and Works" series. Quite some time ago, we had a Life/Works of Mozart, more recently one of Chopin and now two more, Liszt and Beethoven. Both are even better packaged than are the earlier sets, with a thick booklet that offers us essays on the historical background, the position of the composer in his time, a look at the major works, a listening plan, recommended readings, personalities, a calendar of the artist's life, a glossary, a discography--and finally something I thought I would never see, the text of the recording's narration. This booklet is worth the price of the set alone.
The Liszt set starts with the sound of artillery, the Beethoven with the sound of a cork popping. A good way to grab your attention, surely, but also to make you think they packaged the wrong disc in the jewel case!
Written and narrated by Jeremy Siepmann, the production enlists some excellent actors to play the people in the composer's life. In the "Beethoven" set (8.558024-27), we have Bob Peck as the usually tormented voice of Beethoven, who is joined by David Timson, Neville Jason, Elaine Claxton, and Karen Archer as the voices of Beethoven's friends, critics, and loves. The musical selections are drawn from the bottomless well of Naxos recordings.
As I commented with regard to the other sets, the music is well chosen but some of it simply lasts too long for those who are eager to get on to the facts of the composer's life. On the other hand, this IS called the Life and Works series, and perhaps a balance is to be maintained between the two aspects.
Beethoven's idiosyncrasies make a good comparison with those of Chopin, the former doing everything he could to call attention to himself, the latter withdrawn--but both acting like bloody fools in so many ways. Perhaps that is the price of genius. The tale of his "Immortal Beloved" is briefly treated here, but it is fascinating to follow his amores, which are invariably with women he could never hope to attain. The most surprising element is his early popularity as a Very Witty Person, an estimate he quickly lost when deafness came upon him.
Along with the other three sets, a both fascinating and informative recording.