The Best Recorded Performances of Beethoven's Symphonies

I am looking to fill out my collection of Beethoven’s nine symphonies on CD or hires. I have the what I think are the best performances of the 5th and 7th symphonies in both Red Book and 24/96:


Agree or disagree?

What about 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9? If you could only have one recording of these symphonies, which ones would they be?


Too difficult, please ask an easier question such as: “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around…”


There will never be agreement about a “best” performance, particularly when so many are available.

That said, I highly recommend the complete series of Beethoven symphonies by Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra. I bought mine as 92/24 downloads and the sound quality as well as the performances are superb. They are available on SACD and CD, which I have no personally heard. Also very good are the San Francisco Symphony recordings from Blue Coast records (2, 5, 7, 9).

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I’d recommend sticking with the European orchestras. Look for Staatskapelle Berlin/Barenboim, COE/Harnoncourt, Zurich Tonhalle/Zinman, Vienna/Bohm or Rattle. HIP/original instrument versions from Orchestre Reveolutionnaire/Gardiner, Orchestra of the 18th Century/Bruggen. These are all complete sets.

The only American orchestra set worth acquiring is the Cleveland/Szell set on Epic/Sony. “Cracklin’ with energy”

Do I have to pick just one? OK, today I’ll go with the ‘99 Staatskapelle Berlin set on Teldec/Warner. An amazing band with a distinct, rich “old school” tone led by Barenboim who brings his Furtwangler-inspired style of conducting. Tempo, balance, rubato, technical precision, architecture, dynamics, energy…it’s all there!


The last thing I need is another set of Beethoven symphonies but for $10.02 plus shipping on Amazon I will take a listen.

Thanks xainharris.

$10.02?! Wow.

It is now $10.69 from Zoverstocks on Amazon.

Or $14.69 from Amazon itself with free shipping if you have Prime.

Amazing. What a delight.

I have had great experience buying used, and there are used versions offered slightly cheaper.

I ordered and look forward to hearing it.
Also, just started listening to the 62-63 H. Von Karajan Beethoven cycle. Very nice indeed!

The 5th by Kleiber is beautiful!

This, IMO, is the best HIP/period instruments version of the 9 symphonies and includes the overtures too. Don’t see any cheap ones out there though.

This is the one for me, no matter if on vinyl or SACD, it’s the best IMO.

Vinyl folks should get the vinyl, the mastering is definitely superior imo.

Very nice sound and performances.