Andris Nelsons / Wiener Philharmoniker

Beethoven: Complete Symphonies

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The Wiener Philharmoniker, or Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, has attained a kind of exalted status among symphonic ensembles of the German-speaking world. In fact, it may be so exalted that it only occasionally, when properly motivated, bestirs itself to creativity. From this perspective, this cycle of Beethoven symphonies, with Andris Nelsons conducting the venerable Viennese, is a success worthy of the shelf and hard drive space among all the other hundreds of Beethoven symphony cycles. Nelsons generally makes his Beethoven brisk enough to put the players into a bit of a state of tension, and when they execute, the results are thrilling indeed, in a way that brings the entire weight of the Vienna tradition alive. Sample any of the Scherzos, perhaps that of the Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92. There is no denying that hearing this is tremendously exciting, and the hair-trigger precision of that symphony's finale is also impressive. Nelsons aims for readings that are fast, intense, and yet possessed of a certain lightness, and often enough, he succeeds and propels this set into the top rungs. There are, however, some second-rung performances, and they come at big moments. The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, is so precise that the earth-shaking quality of the music is lost. Sample the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, finale (broken up into multiple tracks for no very good reason). The forward motion will have you speeding down the roadway if you listen to it in a car, but you may find that the reading doesn't match the sense of certain phrases like "wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt" ("where your gentle wing lingers"). Still, Nelsons does not lose the rich humor of the Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93, and he generally makes the case for a Beethoven symphony cycle that is fast, hard, and brilliantly played. Strongly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 9 Op. 125 in D minor
1 16:41 Amazon
2 11:58 Amazon
3 15:59 Amazon
4 02:53 Amazon
5 03:50 Amazon
6 03:35 Amazon
7 03:59 Amazon
8 03:17 Amazon
9 02:09 Amazon
10 02:16 Amazon
11 01:42 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 6

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 1 Op. 21 in C major
1 09:44 Amazon
2 08:46 Amazon
3 03:24 Amazon
4 06:01 Amazon
Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" Op. 55 in E flat major
5 17:39 Amazon
6 16:33 Amazon
7 05:53 Amazon
8 12:18 Amazon
Symphony No. 2 Op. 36 in D major
9 12:30 Amazon
10 12:03 Amazon
11 03:34 Amazon
12 06:23 Amazon
Symphony No. 4 Op. 60 in B flat major
13 11:30 Amazon
14 10:15 Amazon
15 05:38 Amazon
16 06:54 Amazon
Symphony No. 5 Op. 67 in C minor
17 07:42 Amazon
18 10:34 Amazon
19 05:13 Amazon
20 11:14 Amazon
Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral" Op. 68 in F major
21 09:44 Amazon
22 12:19 Amazon
23 05:08 Amazon
24 03:37 Amazon
25 10:05 Amazon
Symphony No. 7 Op. 92 in A major
26 11:49 Amazon
27 08:58 Amazon
28 08:37 Amazon
29 06:51 Amazon
Symphony No. 8 Op. 93 in F major
30 09:52 Amazon
31 04:24 Amazon
32 04:40 Amazon
33 07:31 Amazon
Symphony No. 9 Op. 125 in D minor
34 16:41 Amazon
35 11:58 Amazon
36 15:59 Amazon
37 02:53 Amazon
38 03:50 Amazon
39 03:35 Amazon
40 03:59 Amazon
41 03:17 Amazon
42 02:09 Amazon
43 02:16 Amazon
44 01:42 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick