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.
Jubilee Concert: 100 Years of Berliner Philharmoniker, April 30th, 1982
The performance itself ? Nothing short of revelatory. You are not likely to see or hear a reading of the tragic slow movement which digs as deeply as this one. Karajan and his orchestra present a very profound experience ; the visual aspect of the performance helps us to see the emotion being poured into this sublime movement, and the intense response from the players. The first movement doesn't exactly ignite initially, but it soon gathers steam, and the Karajan charisma settles in for a coda which blazes its way to the final chords. The third and fourth movements are beautifully played, too. - from Amazon.com
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.
Amazon.com essential recording
Just what was the Leonard Bernstein phenomenon all about? This disc–part of Sony's ongoing series of reissued performances from the conductor's years with the New York Philharmonic–goes a long way toward recapturing at least two aspects of his protean musical career. Bernstein's astonishing powers of communication as both conductor and teacher permeate this account of the landmark Eroica Symphony (recorded in one day in 1964 under legendary producer John McClure); filling out the disc is a lengthy excerpt from his broadcast discussion of the work, "How a Great Symphony Was Written." The charismatic rapport between Bernstein and his New York colleagues crackles with live-wire intensity. Throughout, the sense of excitement in bringing Beethoven's untamable profusion of ideas to life is unjaded…
For its uniqueness, this is perhaps the most heartfelt rendition of the great Choral Symphony. It was extended and altered to celebrate the reunification of East with West, not just in Berlin, Germany as a whole, but the whole of Europe. The text was altered from Ode to Joy to Ode to Freedom. LB has taken all but the second movement at a leisurely pace compared to many of his contemporaries' performances, but by bringing together instrumentalists from the world's greatest ensembles, the passion and the musical genius of Beethoven come across in every phrase. This is a live recording, so the odd cough is heard, but most notable is the late LB stamping his foot on the podium at the start of each movement, and also during many of the more frantic and energetic passages.
This is not the most perfect in terms of technicalities but for a real sense of joy - which is what it is all about, this version can not be bettered. This should be bought as an historic addition to anyone's record library.