Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 9

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Music & Arts
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 9
PERFORMER: Soloists; Westminster Choir, New York PO, Philadelphia Orchestra/Bruno Walter
CATALOGUE NO: CD 1137
If you’re put off by either of these extremes, Bruno Walter’s less interventionist way with the music might suit you better. His earlier American cycle (from 1942-52) has more energy than the familiar stereo versions with the Columbia SO – accents are stronger, phrasing sharper and dynamic contrasts more pointed, and there’s an altogether fuller orchestral sound from the New York players (only the Pastoral hails from Philadelphia). Even more striking are the bonus 1941 versions of the Eroica and Fifth Symphonies, where there’s a greater sense of rhythmic freedom and adventure. The transfers from good LP copies are acceptable, but Sony ought to dig out the original masters – these performances deserve it.

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