Beethoven: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 6

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
WORKS: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 6
PERFORMER: Columbia SO/Bruno Walter
CATALOGUE NO: SMK 64462 ADD (1958/59)
The young Walter said after conducting Fidelio, ‘I think Beethoven would have been pleased with me,’ and this disc (a highlight of Vol. 2 of Sony’s Bruno Walter Edition) might also have received such an accolade. His generally steady tempi in Beethoven’s symphonies may have been influenced by Mahler, so that alone makes it a historical document. His reading of No. 4 mixes wit and warmth with strength and subtlety and the woodwind solos are very fine. After a slightly cautious start, the Pastoral settles into a convincing reading, at times bright and breezy, elsewhere dark and dramatic. Also available in the Edition is a fascinating rehearsal disc of four movements taken from Symphonies Nos 4, 5, 7 and 9. Christopher Fifield