The Beethoven set includes the first two piano concertos (No. 1 in two versions, one with cadenzas supplied by Glenn Gould) together with Beethoven’s only completed opera in its final version: Fidelio. He always had a strong and fervent view of freedom and its resonance still rings true today nearly two hundred years since its first performance.
"Conducting the Wiener Philarmoniker 's always been something absolutely unique, starting from my debut in Salisburgo after studying in Vienna. Wondeful string section, great musical tradition and deep understanding of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss' music are typical of this group. It's a true joy making music with them. I am always very grateful when I conduct the Wieners at Musikverein or Staatsoper. It's like coming home." (Claudio Abbado)
Leonard Bernstein's Late Mozart Symphony recordings come from the 1980s when the market was deluged with "authentic" and "period" style offerings from the likes of Trevor Pinnock and Christopher Hogwood. Bernstein, never a slave to fashion, conjured up some wonderfully "old fashioned" performances, full of rich orchestral sonorities, generous helpings of vibrato, and unabashedly romantic pacing, phrasing, and rubato… Even with the pile of Mozart symphony discs on the market, Bernstein's compelling renditions easily command your attention and warrant your purchase. - Victor Carr Jr, classicstoday.com
One of the great Hungarian conductors, Szell quickly transformed a middling Midwestern orchestra into one of the nation's Big Five.
This recording follows on a successful reading by the same forces of Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish") of 1963. You can see why they started with the later work first, although the 1965 revision of the Symphony No. 2 ("The Age of Anxiety") actually postdates the earlier-numbered work. All three works share a common theme, namely the crisis of faith, but the oratorio-like "Kaddish" Symphony has a dramatic quality that makes its concerns explicitly.
"Muti's Beethoven Fifth is fleet, fluid, and transparent. He shows his usual attention to details, and offers many individual touches. I especially enjoyed the horn crescendo in bar 34 of the Allegro con brio. It's not indicated in my ancient Eulenberg score but makes perfect sense in its context. …Muti achieves a clarity and rhythmic definition found only in the finest interpretations…The playing of the Philadelphia Orchestra is nothing short of spectacular. The fast string triplets from measure 132 in the final movement are not only accurate but beautifully played with full tone.