WORKS: Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 7; Egmont Overture; King Stephen Overture
PERFORMER: LSO/Pierre Monteux
CATALOGUE NO: 443 479-2 ADD (1964/65/67/79)
This is vintage early stereo Beethoven from the Frenchman who first conducted The Rite of Spring. Tempting, but uneven. You won’t find here the modern insight of a Gardiner, Norrington or Hogwood; the lofty grandeur of a Weingartner or Furtwängler; the gravity of a Klemperer or Walter.
On balance, the London performances come off best (an interestingly focused Fourth, a vibrant, brassy Seventh, possibly the best King Stephen in the catalogue). The Vienna ones, however (a lethargic Pastoral and Eighth, a loose Eroica), disappoint. On vinyl during the late Fifties and early Sixties Cluytens, Schmidt-Isserstedt and von Matacic in Europe, Reiner and Bernstein in America, all knew how to communicate Beethoven’s inspirational genius with greater fire and authority. Ates Orga