Beethoven Complete Works boxed set recommendations

I’ve been thinking of getting one of the Beethoven "complete works" boxed sets currently available. The recent sets I’m aware of are the Naxos, Warner Classics, Brilliant and Deutsche Gramophone ones. If you are aware of any other current Beethoven complete works sets please let me know.. The Deutsche Gramophone set is currently an out of print limited edition, but possibly available second hand.

Which of these sets would you recommend? I am primarily interested in the quality of the performances and quality of the recordings. Some of the sets are more comprehensive than others, and include a greater number of Beethoven’s lesser known works and fragments, but that’s only of secondary interest to me. I’ve read some reviews online of these sets, but am interested in what you think, especially if you've had a chance to listen to or sample any of them. Thanks,



That’s a kinda neat idea - 80 or 123 or thereabouts CDs is a good start..

I consulted amazon which have both Warner and one with Decca/Deutsche Gramophon logos on it - read the reviews there from people who purchased and (hopefully) listened. I generally see high praise from those who are not necessarily seeking the very very best.

One reviewer was a little underwhelmed (Decca) after having absorbed the aesthetics of the Mozart and Bach box sets. Or, "box too large".  First world problems in the extreme. Must be thirsty work.

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Naxos is always good for the money and always has good music..


Often someone or group does better than the famous .

Young artists tend to give it it all . I have about a hundred CD’s from Naxos

without one dog .

Noske, I have the Brilliant Mozart and Bach sets and have been pretty pleased with them, I'm not very well versed in Classical music though, so am not a good judge of performance quality. I did read the Brilliant Beethoven set wasn't that good compared to the other two I do have.

Jasonbourne52, Is that 1967 Karajan a complete works set?

Jim, the Naxos set reviews I've read so far concur with your judgement. It's supposed to be a fairly complete set too with lots of odds and ends included.. Since the DG set is harder to find and pricier by far I'm leaning towards the Naxos or Warners.. Hopefully someone out there has the Warner set and can comment. 


The two sets I have enjoyed the most recently are Zinman with the Zurich Tonhalle orchestra and the new one by Savall with his hand-picked orchestra.  Terrific sound on both of these.

A classic though is the 1963 Karajan-Berlin set.

Another that many folks like is the SACD Vanska Minnesota Orchestra set.  But I find the BIS dynamics overly aggressive,

Too many excellent choices (for me at least - I've got/had a lot of them).

In recent years  I found myself listening more often to Bernstein's set on DG than others available, and more recently the set issued set by Blomstedt on Accentus Music. FWIW, the latter gets  good current reviews and IMHO deserves them. Don't mistake them for another set for 'sale' on Amazon if your looking for the latest/greatest performances in a set.

I too will take a pass on Vanska's set (which I also have).

Meim and newbee,, I will try and find some information tonight on the Beethoven sets you both mentioned. and will get back to you here. There appear to be more options than those of which I was aware. Thanks for the suggestions.


Do you mean 'Complete Beethoven' , as in everything he wrote, or just recordings of the complete symphony cycle?


Rok2id, I meant "as in everything he wrote" or an approximation of the same, as none of the "Complete Works" sets has everything in it. From what I’ve been reading, some of the newest sets marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, are considerably more comprehensive than earlier "Complete Works" box sets. 


Otto Klemperer and the New Philharmonia would be my preference ahead of the 1963 DG Karajan!

That EMI Klemperer 10 CD set of symphonies and overtures is available on eBay for $32.09 new with free shipping. 

I would advise looking around for reviews. Gramohone Magazine is my most trusted source but if I had to choose from those you've mentioned, I'd go with the Deutsche Grammophon just for the Herbert von Karajan recordings. Anyway, DG certainly have some fine artists on their label.

Personally however, I would collect Beethoven recordings separately. For example The Florestan Trio's Piano Trios (Hyperion). The Takacs Quartet String Quartets (Decca), Isabelle Faust Violin Sonatas (Harmonia Mundi), ...

Here's a list of venerated Beethoven recordings from Gramophone;

Sorry, I answered as though you asked for Symphony cycles.  

I agree with @goofyfoot that you might be better off with selections that don't all come in the same box.  Though big boxes may be cheap per disk.

Jasonbourne52, I appreciate your recommendations, but am only looking for complete works sets at present,

Meim and goofyfoot, I’m looking for complete works sets to get a comprehensive sampling, this time, of Beethoven’s work. I’m new at listening to classical music. If I find that I like any of his works enough to want a better rendition, I’ll pursue getting them. The box sets are so economical they’re hard to pass up as a way to learn in one fell swoop about some of the best Classical composers and the scope of their work. I’ve enjoyed the Bach and Mozart sets so far.

Reviews are excellent resources too as you mentioned goofyfoot. At site members suggestions I’ve acquired two big fat books of them, the "2009 Penguin Guide" and "1001 Classical Records You Must Hear Before You Die". At age 70 I’ve gpt to step it up to reach the latter goal and complete works sets fit the bill in that regard.


Last year I purhased the Deutsche Gramophon 250th Anniversary box set.  I understand they selected from 6000 hours of material and produced a 118 CD Box Set.  Nice hardcover book comes with it.  I think you would hae to look on the used market as it appears to be sold out.  Got mine on Amazon Canada for $350 CDN.  Have been loving it ever since.  

Thankx bigtwin. I'll take a look at Amazon Canada. Didn't know there was such a thing. I'll check Ebay Canada too. Last I looked the regular U.S. Ebay didn't have any available. .



Sorry I'm late on this. I own a 9 Symphony boxed set conducted by Gardiner and was recorded in the early 90's. The performances are superb. The production not so much. A good DAC will reward you.