Haitink's integral set of Beethoven Symphonies with the London Symphony has none of the stodginess that sometimes afflicted his earlier recordings with the Concertgebouw. His restudy of the works, and the presence of concert audiences translate into faster tempos, sharper accents, wider dynamic range and an overall sense of energy that imbue these nine masterpieces.
"…I will treasure this set until the end of my days, and hope others will attain the same joy from it after I am gone." ~SA-CD.net
Major documents from Rudolf Kempe's later years at the head of the Munich Philharmonic. Beethoven's Fifth, that masterpiece of emotional tension, and his Sixth, all vivid depiction of nature, are both readings of maturity and perfection.
In February 2001 the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado were guests at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome with all Beethoven symphonies. Their success was overwhelming with standing ovations after each performance. “Abbado, a Furtwängler admirer in principle, seems ever more Italian, his tauter lyricism allied to a sense of forward movement influenced, we are told, by period practice. The surprise is not the Mediterranean luminosity and scrupulous attention to instrumental detail - one expects nothing less from this source - but the animating sense of line. The Seventh Symphony… knows precisely where it's going and why… The sense of joy present throughout is overwhelming by the close.” - Gramophone Magazine.
With the Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony resounds with melodic force, the Eighth is a masterful blend of grace and wit, and the Ninth - directed by Karajan himself - is a vital and explicitly dramatic reading of Beethoven's revolutionary work.
The art of conducting was certainly imbued in Carlos Kleiber's whole persona and these magnificent performances of Beethoven's Fourth and Seventh symphonies find him on home ground with the excellent Concertgebouw Orchestra. Recorded in 1983, these concerts are a final testament to the art of great symphonic conducting and should definitely be in every serious music lover's collection.
"There is no single body of work in the universe of orchestral music that is in any way comparable to this one" (Leonard Bernstein on the Beethoven Symphonies). "He has a way of reminding you what the music can do: no one else today can make the great C major eruption in the Marcia funebre of No.3 blaze like this." - Gramophone
"The poised polished execution of the Vienna Philharmonic, and … the controlled, tasteful vigour of Bernstein's conducting sets standards of Beethoven playing that recall Toscanini's heyday with the New York Philharmonic." - Fanfare