Beethoven - Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 | Sony 88875136452

Beethoven - Symphonies Nos 4 & 5

Label: Sony

Cat No: 88875136452

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 5th February 2016



Concentus Musicus Wien


Nikolaus Harnoncourt


Beethoven, Ludwig van

Symphony no.4 in B flat major, op.60
Symphony no.5 in C minor, op.67


Concentus Musicus Wien


Nikolaus Harnoncourt


Nikolaus Harnoncourt is celebrated as one of the most influential musical personalities of the second-half of the twentieth century, and this new release is the last recording made by the great conductor, having announced his retirement in December 2015. It is also the first time Harnoncourt conducts Beethoven's Symphonies 4 and 5 with Concentus Musicus Wien, which he founded in 1953 and is now the longest existing period instrument ensemble.

A pioneer of the early music movement, he founded the period-instrument ensemble Concentus Musicus Wien in 1953 with his wife, Alice Hoffelner. After 60 years of conducting this ensemble, and a life-long study of the last three Mozart Symphonies, he now felt the time is right to make his last statement and record these works. Harnoncourt always wanted to record these works on historical instruments. For him it is the only way to demonstrate Beethovenís radicalism in sound. After sixty years of playing and conducting Beethoven's music, this release is Harnoncourtís definitive view on Beethovenís symphonies.

In the booklet note Harnoncourt declares that Beethovenís Symphony No.5 has been completely misunderstood. It has nothing to do with destiny, but tells the story of ďthe revolt of the massesĒ. He understands this Symphony as Beethovenís greatest political statement.

The album is a live-recording from two sold-out concerts at the Vienna Musikverein considered one of the finest concert halls in the world, due to its highly regarded acoustics.


The Fourth Symphony is as good a new version as Iíve heard in a long time. The first movementís progress from darkness to sudden illumination is gripping, the slow movement is full of magic, drama and pathos, the Scherzo and finale overflow with vitality and wit. Itís the kind of performance that brings back the sense of discovery and surprise to a slightly over-familiar score.  Stephen Johnson

BBC Music Magazine May 2016
[Nikolaus Harnoncourt] shows he has lost nothing of his questing flair for controversy. This is Beethoven raw at the edges, the Symphony No.4 bristling with a truculent, elbow-in-ribs kind of humour and a Symphony No.5 with a taste for melodrama, honking horns, hammer-blow accents and sudden gasps for beath. It is a shame that this live Beethoven symphony cycle will go no further. Ė Richard Fairman
Financial Times 14 February 2016
This single disc of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies [...] has special poignancy. The speeds are not different to the earlier set, but the transparency and detailing of the instruments has a cinematic quality. From the sublimely mysterious opening of the Fourth, to the electric coda of the last movement of the Fifth with added pauses, this recording burns with intensity and vitality. Ė Nicholas Kenyon
The Observer 21 February 2016

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