Best Beethoven Symphony Cycle? – and why this thread title is so problematic.

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Editor’s preliminary note. Before linking you to this forum debate I’d like if I may to draw attention to what I believe are failings, or at the very least perceived failings in the altogether harmless yet irritating thread title. I've looked through the responses and some excellent suggestions have been made. I’m grateful for that. However I choose the word ‘excellent’ only inasmuch as I can’t think of a more appropriate word. Let me explain and, in so doing give you an insight into the other word I used – namely ‘irritating

Excellent because precise recommendations have been made. Food for thought of course and for people like me with a deep love of classical music but who are at the same time utter novices when it comes to musical theory, interpretation and so on, a useful staring point. So far, so good?

But surely the title of the post implies that one recording of a performance is demonstrably superior to another as implicit in the word ‘best’. Better in what way? Few of the respondentschoose to address this!

Their recommendations are no doubt sincere. The recordings being cherished. But on what basis can one be sensibly judged to be superior? I’m talking here of the performance rather than the recording itself. Even novices can distinguish between a muddy recording and a crisp one. But what is a sensible and consistent yardstick for making a rational and reliable judgment about the performance ?

It’ll take a more musically competent human than I am to answer that – if indeed there is an answer. And so with this I mind, here is the link and please judge for yourself and if I may, and if you can find the time perhaps ponder on how the thread title could have been worded in such way as to catalyze opinions which were perhaps a tad more meaningful?

Thank you

Howard Popeck

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