The opening four notes of Beethoven’s groundbreaking work are perhaps the most famous in music history. It’s a work of grand dimensions and limitless colour.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Carlos Kleiber
DG 471 6302
Symphony No. 9
In his ninth symphony Beethoven takes the listener from dark solemnity to the heights of exaltation. The finale setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy builds to an explosive climax.
Tomowa-Sintow, Baltsa, Schreier, Van Dam, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Karajan DG 477 6325
Deemed unplayable when it was first published, Beethoven’s most technically difficult sonata covers more emotional ground than any of the other 31.
Stephen Kovacevich (piano)
EMI Classics 965 9222
A serene, peaceful concerto that embraces a soaring first-movement theme and a rather mischievous, playful finale.
Hilary Hahn (violin), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Zinman
Sony Classical SK 60584
Piano Concerto No. 4
The heart and soul of Beethoven’s astonishing five piano concertos with its expansive, stately first movement and an exuberant, joyful Rondo finale.
Till Fellner (piano), Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano
ECM 476 3315
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.