20 of the best Beethoven recordings of all time

We name the best albums and recordings every Beethoven lover needs to add to their collection


Here are, in our opinion, the best Beethoven recordings and albums of all time. Enjoy…


1) For the Beethoven’s symphonies, the best recording is Karajan’s refined 1962 version with the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon.

2) Otherwise, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe offer freshness in their interpretations of Beethoven’s symphonies (Warner).

3) Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic are untouchable in their recordings of Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos 5 & 7 (DG).

4) For the best recordings of Beethoven’s piano concertos, plump for Murray Perahia and the Concertgebouw/Haitink (Sony).

5) Another great recording is Alfred Brendel with Vienna Philharmonic under Simon Rattle (Warner).

6) Artur Schnabel’s recording occupies the complete Beethoven piano sonatas top spot. (Harmonia Mundi).

7) Alongside Stephen Kovacevich, whose Beethoven Piano Sonatas are equally stunning (Warner).

8) Andreas Staier is superb in his recordings of the Diabelli Variations (Harmonia Mundi).

9) Alfred Brendel rules the bagatelles (Decca).

10) Quartetto Italiano (Decca) is a safe bet for Beethoven’s string quartets.

11) As is the Takács Quartet (Decca).

12) We’d take Isabelle Faust and the Orchestra Mozart under Claudio Abbado for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Harmonia Mundi).

13) Itzhak Perlman joins the Philharmonia under Guilini in a stellar recording of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Warner).

14) In Beethoven’s violin sonatas, Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien reign (Hyperion).

15) For Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, who could resist David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter with the Berlin Phil/Karajan (Warner)?

16) Marvel at Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zucherman and Jacqueline du Pré in Beethoven’s piano trios (Warner).

17) Go modern with Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin’s brilliant recordings of Beethoven’s cello sonatas (Hyperion).

18) Trio Zimmermann have the best recordings of Beethoven’s string trios (BIS).

19) For Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, let’s hear it for the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Concentus Musicus Wien and Harnoncourt (Sony).


20) Nina Stemme, Jonas Kaufmann, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Abbado offer a thrilling recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio (Decca).