Beethoven: The Symphonies (5 CD)

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RELEASE DATE: 15/05/2020
5 CD

William Steinberg, who was assistant to Arturo Toscanini at the NBC Symphony Orchestra, became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1952. From 1952 to 1959, the PSO’s recordings were made for Capitol Records but in 1960, Steinberg and the orchestra recorded briefly for the new Everest label, which introduced the expensive but sonically advantageous process of recording on 35mm magnetic film. However, Everest soon ran into financial straits and its studio and equipment were bought by the engineer C. Robert Fine, to be used for his sonic-standard-setting Mercury’s “Living Presence” recordings.

Meanwhile, the classically trained record executive Enoch Light, about to launch another new label, Command Classics, heard and was deeply impressed by a concert given by Steinberg and the PSO. Aware of Everest’s imminent demise and Fine’s acquisition of Everest’s studio, he signed Steinberg as conductor and Bob Fine as engineer for a series of 35mm Command recordings, recorded at Pittsburgh’s iconic Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, of which the present complete Beethoven cycle would form the centerpiece.

Steinberg’s sober, self-effacing approach to Beethoven was warmly received by critics, with High Fidelity, the leading US classical-record magazine writing “... Steinberg does not romanticize the music, but he knows how to turn a good phrase and draw out a singing line. The best-known and obvious effects of the score are all realized, therefore, as well as the passages which require a skilled hand and well-disciplined mind on the podium. And in this disc, as in other Command releases, we hear a symphony orchestra recorded in such a way that it sounds exactly like a symphony orchestra.”

CD 1

Symphony No. 1 in C major op. 21

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major “Eroica” op. 55

CD 2

Symphony No. 2 in D major op. 36

Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60

Overture “Leonore III” op. 72b

CD 3

Symphony No. 5 in C minor op. 67

Symphony No. 6 in F major “Pastoral” op. 68

CD 4

Symphony No. 7 in A major op. 92

Symphony No. 8 in F major op. 93

CD 5

Symphony No. 9 in D minor “Choral” op. 125

Ella Lee soprano

Johanna Simon mezzo-soprano

Richard Kness tenor

Thomas Paul bass

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

William Steinberg

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