Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60

    Description by Michael Jameson

    Robert Schumann described this symphony as "a slender Greek maiden between two Norse giants," and started the long-standing tradition which holds that somehow Beethoven's even-numbered symphonies are less profound than the odd-numbered ones. This may seem true at first glance, but there is much that Schumann's analysis leaves unsaid. While the lambent beauty of the Adagio might suggest the kind of Classicism that the Eroica transcended, one should remember that, in many senses, the Fourth, emerging from an intensely foreboding, and even tragic, introduction, is no less heroic than either the Eroica or the Fifth. Dark-hued and intensely chromatic strivings pull the music from B flat minor toward the unison F which heralds the beginning of the sunny Allegro vivace exposition. While Weber criticized the deliberately sparse-sounding introduction, Tovey sensed its immense stature, writing of the "sky-dome vastness" of its harmonic progression. The Adagio, a sonata structure minus development, begins with an insistent rhythm which recurs several times. At the start, the violins sing out the sublimely reflective principal motif, a tenderly lyrical utterance which stands in direct contrast to the opening figure. These two contrasting elements are always at the hub of the movement, the expressive violin theme later becoming the subject of variations. The reprise of the second group then leads to the highly atmospheric coda. What follows is the Scherzo; a bucolic main theme suggests the rustic folk-dance idioms that Beethoven knew well; nevertheless, the movement surpasses the Eroica's Scherzo in power and dynamism. It should be noted that this is the first of Beethoven's symphonic scherzos to feature a repeat of the trio section, which is significant, given the massive nature of the surrounding material. The scherzo is heard one last time, now abridged, before the shattering final coda with its three-bar horn solo. Expanded scherzos also figure in several of Beethoven's later symphonies (the exception is the Eighth), and sketches suggest the technique was originally envisaged for the Fifth. Opening with a series of mercurial sixteenth note fragments from which the first subject group is derived, the final movement is "perpetuum mobile." As the movement unfolds, the oboe's second theme provides contrast with the initial statement, the relentless development section posing serious technical challenges to the lower instruments: bassoon, cellos, and basses. In the coda, surely one of Beethoven's most humorous inventions, the theme is passed around at half speed after a "false" ending has been reached, and finally brushed aside dramatically as cellos and basses plummet down the scale before the striking final bars for full orchestra.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio - Allegro vivace
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegro vivace
    4. Allegro ma non troppo

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Edition Taschenphilharmonie ETP 010
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 17084
    2018 Wiener Symphoniker WS 014
    2018 Alpha 380
    2018 Sony Classical 88985483391
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4798418
    2018 BR Klassik 900157
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295886691
    2017 RCA Red Seal 88985376042
    2017 Berlin Classics 0300926 BC
    2017 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1034CD
    2017 MDG / MDG Gold MDG 9371995
    2017 Decca / London
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295824600
    2017 Accentus ACC 80322
    2017 Nimbus Records NI 1713
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797477
    2017 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88985395202
    2017 Pentatone Classics / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186248
    2017 Claves
    2017 Claves 50171117
    2016 Sony Classical 88875136452
    2016 LPO LPO 0093
    2016 Sony Classical 88985328562
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975098
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795977
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796314
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795516
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875173752
    2016 Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR 160091
    2016 Tacet TACET 974
    2016 Praga / Praga Digitals DSD 350115
    2015 Analekta AN 291505
    2015 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 14026
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875112822
    2015 BR Klassik 900135
    2015 Sony Classical 88875123912
    2015 Orchid Classics ORC 100045
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9079
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Sony Classical 88843047122
    2014 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099999356521
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627829
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002228
    2014 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1023CD2
    2014 Decca / Eloquence
    2014 Warner Classics 2564633735
    2014 Warner Classics 545117
    2014 Decca / Eloquence
    2014 Urania WS 121178
    2014 Philips / Universal 4758147
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Sony Classical 88843014642
    2014 Andromeda ANDRCD 5061
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Crystal Classics DELTA 80006
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099973530
    2013 EMI Classics
    2013 Elatus 60012
    2013 Philharmonia Baroque PBP 06
    2013 Warner Classics 175714
    2013 BR Klassik 900119
    2013 Music & Melody / ZYX MUS 50172
    2013 Sony Classical 88725491762
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 090
    2013 Naxos 8501204
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791046
    2012 Decca / Universal
    2012 Decca 4783511
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94289
    2012 Challenge Classics / North Star Records CC 72550
    2012 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 93285
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2012 Entertainment Group 12109
    2012 Decca 4783494
    2012 Audite audite 10030
    2012 Nimbus NI 6147
    2012 Teldec Classics International / Warner Classics / Warner Classics International 61890
    2012 Glossa GCDSA 921116
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2012 Roslin Records Rod 3710
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2012 Andromeda ANDRCD 9093
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779830
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Piano Classics PCLD 0025
    2011 Musical Concepts MC199
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 Naïve V 5258
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909794
    2011 Entertainment Group 1019
    2011 Orfeo C 839112B
    2011 Supraphon SU40512
    2011 Sony Classical 88697927172
    2011 Music & Arts CD1252
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon UCGG 9012
    2011 Decca
    2011 Red Bus Classical RCLAS 007
    2011 Warner Classics 63779
    2011 PentaTone Classics PTC5186315
    2011 Denon Records
    2011 Helicon Classics / Helicon Records 029641
    2011 Globe Records GLO 5246
    2011 Pentatone / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186312
    2011 Newton Classics 8802077
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 4782721
    2011 IDIS IDIS 6619
    2011 Membran 233373
    2010 Challenge Classics CC 72361
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Audite 95610
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Channel Classics 30710
    2010 EtCetera Records 1396
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 RPO 28990
    2010 Decca
    2010 Archiv Produktion / Deutsche Grammophon 4778643
    2010 Archiv Produktion 477 864-3
    2010 Sony Classical 8869768365
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Berlin Classics 0115162BC
    2009 Testament 1430
    2009 Sony Classical 46246
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 BIS 1825/26
    2009 Delta / Zebralution
    2009 Delta / Zebralution
    2009 Tahra 673674
    2009 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 9068
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777578
    2008 Berlin Classics 0184442
    2008 Landscape Classics / Zebralution
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777157
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 Eloquence / Philips / Philips Classics 4681072
    2008 Opus KURA 7039
    2008 Sony Music Distribution 719252
    2008 Col Legno Classics 60004
    2008 Classics for Pleasure
    2008 Avie 2169
    2008 RCA Red Seal 721418
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics 5176592
    2008 ZYX Music 10321
    2008 Zig Zag Territoires 80402
    2008 Berlin Classics / Corona Classic Collection 0001322CCC
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951586
    2008 Col Legno 60006
    2008 EMI Classics
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4630882
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4775864
    2008 Telarc Distribution 80731
    2008 Brilliant Classics 8593
    2008 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2008 Corona Records 0002672CCC
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951203
    2007 Disques XXI 1489
    2007 Hungaroton 41007
    2007 Music & Arts 1203
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 EMI Classics 367530
    2007 Oehms Classics 521
    2007 Ambroisie 9993
    2007 Rhino
    2007 Testament 1407
    2007 LSO Live 87
    2007 Palatine 90601
    2007 Melodiya 1001112
    2007 Sony Music Distribution 5185082
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 Melodiya 1001007
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 000966502
    2007 Decca 4759090
    2007 Document 223602
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 001050702
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 Fabula Classica 12035
    2007 Hyperion 44301
    2007 Brilliant 93178
    2006 RCO / RCO Live 06004
    2006 Document 224051
    2006 LSO Live 598
    2006 Testament 1387
    2006 LSO Live LSO 0587
    2006 Warner Music 63779
    2006 Opus KURA 7017
    2006 Madacy 52319
    2006 Music & Arts CD1187
    2006 BBC Legends 42022
    2006 Tall Poppies 88
    2005 Brilliant 92766
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Arte Nova 592140
    2005 BIS 1416
    2005 Opus KURA 2014
    2005 Pentatone Classics 5186145
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 66795
    2005 Talent Records 100
    2005 Philips 4756883
    2005 Teldec / Warner Classics / Warner Music 4618902
    2005 Document 221790
    2005 Andante AN 2130
    2004 Arts Music 47700
    2004 Brilliant 99793
    2004 Praga 50021
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474602
    2004 Philips 000251636
    2004 High Definition Classics 038
    2004 Universal Classics 000344002
    2004 Opus KURA 7002
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 000218502
    2004 PentaTone Classics 5186159
    2004 Naxos 8508007
    2004 Brilliant 92387
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 575751
    2004 Resonance 504
    2004 Philips 4752722
    2004 Sony Music Distribution 92480
    2004 Laserlight 40027
    2004 Apex 60457
    2004 Intersound 5854
    2004 Biddulph Recordings 008
    2003 Apex 4604542
    2003 Capriccio Records 50000
    2003 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 57445
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 57568
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 1463
    2003 Teldec 092749768
    2003 RCA 89109
    2003 Haenssler 93089
    2003 Berlin Classics 0021962
    2003 Naxos 8110956
    2003 Haenssler 93085
    2003 Audite 95493
    2003 Telarc Distribution 80198
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Rca Red Seal 89717
    2003 Naxos 8557235
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 474018
    2003 RCA 55702
    2003 Sony Music Distribution 87328
    2003 RPO 204490
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000165536
    2003 Delta Distribution 40031
    2003 Tahra 495/496
    2003 Past Perfect 205633
    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 40181
    2002 Brilliant 99927
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471488
    2002 Sony Music Distribution 87885
    2002 Classica d'Oro 1065
    2002 Testament 1286
    2002 Teldec 8573828912
    2002 Haenssler 98396
    2002 D Classics 70616
    2002 Delta Distribution 14567
    2002 History 205645
    2002 Phonographe 5015
    2001 RCA 66656
    2001 Classica d'Oro 1018
    2001 Urania 168
    2001 Erato / Virgin 7243561943
    2001 Berlin Classics 0031342
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67491
    2001 Decca
    2001 RCA 89105
    2001 Antes Edition 319162
    2001 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243567496
    2001 Disky 70708
    2001 Melodram 40047
    2001 Aura Classics 0162
    2000 Teldec 28144
    2000 Decca
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 469000
    2000 Amadis 18501
    2000 Angel Records 66865
    2000 Teldec 82891
    2000 Grammofono 2000 78895
    2000 Berlin Classics 0093462
    2000 Arkadia 78521
    2000 Virgin 61376
    2000 Amadis 7092
    2000 Living Stage 34717
    2000 Stradivarius 10001
    2000 Intersound 2899
    2000 Teldec 27838
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73895
    2000 Simax 1180
    2000 Naxos 110919
    2000 Disky 70527
    2000 Pearl 0074
    1999 Arte Nova 65410
    1999 Orfeo 522991
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 447904
    1999 Iron Needle 1419
    1999 RCA 55835
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 56838
    1999 Classics for Pleasure / EMI Music Distribution 72848
    1999 Arkadia 78554
    1999 Angel Records 73326
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Intersound 3858
    1999 Vanguard 9010
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463468
    1999 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 223
    1999 Music & Arts 4049
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78032
    1999 Biddulph Recordings WHL042
    1999 History 203190
    1998 Angel Records 72923
    1998 Nimbus NI1760
    1998 Arte Nova 59214
    1998 Lys 100
    1998 Valois 4825
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 56521
    1998 Dutton Laboratories 1011
    1998 Praga 256004
    1998 Grammofono 2000 78826
    1998 Disky 703732
    1998 Auvidis 4822
    1997 Dutton Laboratories 5004
    1997 Seraphim UK 69720
    1997 Lys 177
    1997 Naxos 8 553477
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453701
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre 452551
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre
    1997 Sony Classical SMK-63079
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 2905225.30
    1996 Grammofono 2000 78012
    1996 Arts Music 47370
    1996 Philips 454032
    1996 Harmonia Mundi HMA190 1573
    1996 Chandos 7042
    1996 Arts Music 47244
    1996 RCA Victor 61892
    1996 Music & Arts CD-942
    1995 Lydian 18092
    1995 Carlton Classics 6800025
    1995 Praga 250021
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 2901192.98
    1995 Laserlight 15947
    1995 Laserlight 14258
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 58921
    1995 Sony Classical 64462
    1995 Music & Arts CD-824
    1995 ZYX Music 4053
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Classics & Jazz
    1995 Berlin Classics 0021942
    1995 Melodiya 25196
    1995 ZYX Music 1001
    1995 Melodiya 25189
    1994 Archiv Produktion 439 900-2AH5
    1994 Music & Arts CD-792
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 439681
    1994 Naxos 505001
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 68057
    1994 London 443 479-2DF2
    1994 Philips 442156
    1994 Berlin Classics 0020052
    1994 Bescol 9
    1994 Philips 442 073-2PB5
    1994 Grammofono 2000 78502
    1994 Russian Disc 10901
    1994 Madacy 5602
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 439200
    1993 Berlin Classics 0010352
    1993 IMP Classics 869
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 439003
    1993 Classical Heritage 1201
    1992 Nimbus 5144
    1992 Chesky Records 81
    1992 Teldec 75714
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48158
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48396
    1992 London
    1991 Teldec 46452
    1991 EMI Classics 63606
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 48099
    1990 RCA 60324
    1990 Laserlight 15900
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 4290892
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 423481
    1990 London 421580
    1990 Laserlight 15901
    1990 RCA Victor GD60254
    1990 Decca
    1990 Decca 430400
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429036
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 427306
    1989 RCA Victor Red Seal 60090
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 763310/5
    1989 Telarc Distribution 80200
    1988 Naxos 550180
    1987 Deutsche Grammophon 4190482
    1984 Orfeo 100841
    Bose
    EMI Music Distribution 494872
    EMI Music Distribution 49852
    Classical Diamonds 4013
    EMI Music Distribution 749852
    Excelsior Recordings 321351
    Concerto 4
    Russian Revelation 10079
    Landmarks
    Amado Classics 03002
    Cascade Records 2202
    Cetra 3038
    Philharmonia of the Nations 07
    Accord 204442
    EMI Music Distribution 63355
    Ambroisie 121
    Brilliant 92766/3
    CBS Masterworks 45532
    Sony Classical Essential Classics 47516
    Iron Needle 1310
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 9060
    Laserlight 35604
    Capriccio Records 10451-55
    Disky 705242
    Artists 071
    Deutsche Grammophon 423049
    Menuet 160018
    Brilliant 99793/2
    Brilliant 92387/2
    Supraphonet 111104
    Brilliant Classics 8635/46
    BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 225
    BBC Music Magazine 241
    EMI Classics 763192
    Brilliant 93178/7
    D Classics 703752
    Bescol 518
    Nimbus 7018
    D Classics 706192
    Capriccio Records 10453
    Brilliant 93525/4
    Excelsior Recordings 4208
    Laserlight 14823
    MCA 25172
    Masters Classic 3807022
    Excelsior Recordings 31042
    EMI Music Distribution 49656
    Lys 072
    Metromusica 2697192
    Grammofono 2000 78902
    L'Oiseau-Lyre 417615
    Philips 416202
    IMP Classics 9123
    CBS Records 42221
    CBS Records 42011
    Teldec
    Sirio 530016
    CBS Masterworks 45532-4
    Classic Art 162
    RCA 60254
    Everest 9102
    Sony Music Distribution 48158
    Grammofono 2000 78514
    Quintessence 2072
    Forlane 16675
    Classic Art
    Monopoly 2050
    Music Memoria 30378
    RCA 7745
    Stradivari 6102
    Forlane 16674
    Donau 8092
    Denon Records 8015
    Aurophon Records 31432
    Arkadia 757
    Decca 467892
    EMI Music Distribution 747409
    RCA Victor Red Seal 60058
    Manchester 174
    Digital Masterworks 71820
    Palladio 4189
    Nas 2503
    Brilliant 99095
    BS 9
    Madacy 52320
    Nuova Era 2243/48
    Musical Heritage Society 532409
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    Topazio 260410
    Decca 000837002
    Russian Compact Disc (RCD) 25010
    History 205646-303
    Arlecchino 44
    Brilliant Classics 8593/9
    Enterprise 917
    Past Perfect 205635
    Winterthur 96
    Hunt Productions 571
    Testament 1365
    RCA Victor 61893
    Deutsche Grammophon 471289
    History 205641
    FED 071
    Enterprise 4144
    K-Tel / K-Tel Distribution 3807002
    Enterprise 4189
    Document 921/22
    Grammofono 2000 78616
    Grammofono 2000 78007.11
    History 2031941
    Disques Montaigne 8871