Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3 (Eroica); Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral); Symphony No. 8

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3 (Eroica); Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral); Symphony No. 8
PERFORMER: Vienna PO/Pierre Monteux
CATALOGUE NO: 440 627-2 ADD (1970/71)
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.

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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