RCA Red Seal is a classical music label and is now part of Sony Masterworks. The Red Seal label was begun in 1902 by the Gramophone Company in the United Kingdom and was quickly adopted by its United States affiliate, the Victor Talking Machine Company, and its president, Eldridge R. Johnson. Distinctive, red paper information labels affixed to the centre of the two affiliated companies' black shellac discs inspired the name. Led by the work of the great tenor Enrico Caruso, Victor's Red Seal Records changed the perception of recorded music.
10 CD box set celebrating the work of the German Beethoven-pianist of international renown, Wilhelm Backhaus. It contains all of his concert recordings, the most popular sonatas and waltz-variations.
The complete works of Beethoven on 85 CDs plus a supplement particularly outstanding recordings of the past on 15 CDs!
Including the 32 legendary piano sonatas, played by the eccentric talent of the century Friedrich Gulda
Karl Böhm's Beethoven is, on balance, the best complete cycle available from Deutsche Grammophon. This will come as a surprise to many, given the fact that the label relentlessly promotes performances by Herbert von Karajan (three complete cycles!) and Leonard Bernstein, but for quality of playing, as well as superb sound, these versions are just about unbeatable. And at a "twofer" price, the complete set on three pairs of discs is a terrific value. –David Hurwitz
Karl Böhm's Vienna Philharmonic Beethoven cycle is Deutsche Grammophon's best kept secret. Not only is it the finest complete set of Beethoven symphonies in their catalog, it's also far and away the best recorded, and to make matters even more irresistible, it's also the least expensive (it's available on three "twofer" sets). These performances are typical: weighty, intense, powerful, and magnificently played. Listen especially to the (comparatively) neglected Fourth Symphony: if Böhm doesn't convince you that this is major Beethoven, then no one can.
None of Liszt's ingenuous Beethoven symphony transcriptions had been recorded when Glenn Gould charted virgin territory in 1967 with the Fifth. Not only does Gould take Liszt's prodigious technical demands in stride, he also turns in what may be his best Beethoven playing on record. The pianist brings a kind of rhythmic acuity to the outer movements that makes many orchestral versions seem tame in comparison, even those with faster tempos. Gould's genius for sustaining tension at slow tempos is fully revealed in the second movement, in which each phrase is timed to a T. The first movement of the Pastorale flows more assuredly and accurately than in Gould's CBC Radio performance of the entire transcription. It's a pity Gould abandoned his plans to record the entire cycle.
Before anything else is said, it has to be admitted that the 1963 recording with Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter is beyond all argument the greatest set of Beethoven's cello sonatas ever recorded. Nevertheless, for the single best recording of Beethoven's cello sonata, it should be this 1965 recording by Pierre Fournier and Wilhelm Kempff. Because while Rostropovich and Richter are the greater virtuosos, their virtuosity is also inevitably the prism through which Beethoven's music radiates and his music is colored by their virtuosity.