Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony is 50 minutes of tragedy, despair, terror, and violence and three minutes of triumph. Premiered in 1953, the best performance is still that conducted by Mravinsky. Yevgeny Mravinsky's June 3, 1955, performance with the Leningrad Philharmonic of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 is just as great. Mravinsky was the best Soviet conductor and his passionate precision and intense interpretations were as valid for Beethoven as they were for Shostakovich. His interpretations can be hard-driven and sharp-edged, but no one could object to the lucid strength and linear lyricism he brings to the work.
…here Bernstein provides what may be the slowest recorded tempo of the first movement to date (perhaps it's worth it alone for that reason!?) – however the freshness and vitality that LB and the NYP display on the Fourth Symphony is nothing short of breathtaking!
It's pure Bernstein - it's fresh, it's youthful, it's bliss, it's ecstasy. This is one of the finest takes of Beethoven 4 I know of - which is probably Beethoven's most under-estimated symphony. Bernstein captures the exact character needed to sell this work.
For decades Szell's Beethoven cycle has been justly hailed as one of the best on discs, and the reasons are clear: lively and dramatic interpretations that are true to the Beethovenian spirit married to simply spectacular orchestral playing.
Victor Carr Jr.
…Once again, Järvi and his band have captured Beethoven's wilful and often irascible character, rhetoric, polemics and sheer genius in fully-charged performances which also reveal his deep humanity. They certainly should number among the elite.
Beethoven’s Fifth, described by one writer as "the most powerful work of musical rhetoric in orchestral literature," is surely the best-known symphony ever written. But how well do you really know this masterpiece? There are so many novel, forward-looking elements in it that it took years for some people to accept it as anything but unintelligible modern music.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his period orchestra, Concentus Musicus Wien, never recorded a complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, and this 2016 Sony release is their only recording of the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, made almost ten months before the conductor's death. Harnoncourt planned for this to be his last recording before his retirement, so it inevitably has the feeling of a valedictory performance, and one can also hear it as the orchestra's warm tribute to its leader and his sterling musicianship.