Josef Krips / London Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: The Complete Symphony Collection

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Josef Krips' cycle of Ludwig van Beethoven's nine symphonies was recorded in 1960, originally on 35mm film for the Everest label, but this deluxe audiophile treatment was hardly apparent in several inferior-sounding reissues over the years. However, this situation has been rectified by Madacy, who reissued the Everest recordings in a fresh remastering from the original tapes. This recording is reasonably faithful to the professional but not fully polished sound of the London Symphony Orchestra, presenting the way it sounded before its rise to world-class status; the orchestra is quite smooth in a fairly reverberant acoustic that provides a pleasant aural effect. Krips may be grouped among conductors of the conventional approach to performing Beethoven that was prevalent in the mid-20th century, for his performances reflect a preference for a full-size orchestral scale, modern instruments, and homogenization of timbres. Interestingly, Krips' tempos tend toward the fast side, which early music orchestras would later adopt as the norm for period practice, especially in Beethoven. These recordings of the symphonies are solidly played and consistently clear in reproduction, and first-time listeners seeking a bargain could hardly do better than to try this set.