Monteux’s Beethoven has been described as visionary. Respect for the spirit of the score, directness of expression, exceptionally well-drilled playing and a sense of untainted idealism that lay at the very heart of the composer’s vision – these are the qualities that typify Monteux’s interpretation of Beethoven. Eight of the symphonies were recorded for Decca; the Ninth for Westminster; and the third (Eroica) again, for Philips. Together with the rehearsal for the Ninth and an impromptu in-studio performance of La Marseillaise, they form the most complete collection of Monteux’s Beethoven recordings. Other conductors may have offered a more personalised take on the music, but none made it more universal or more human. The fascinating accompanying notes to the set are by Rob Cowan and the recordings have been remastered for this release.
“the sound is excellent […] the finale has beautifully light pointing and delicate playing from the Vienna Philharmonic” (No. 6) - “the first movement has a genuine sense of flow […] The Decca transfer is smoother than the RCA original” (No. 3) - “the development has genuine tension, accents are light and the strings have just the right weight of tone […] the playing of the Vienna strings is splendidly alert and sensitive” (Nos. 1 & 8) - “straightforward and lively, very well played … the performance communicates a genuine sense of enjoyment” (No. 4) - “A lively, slightly lightweight performance, reaching its zenith in the finale […] the recording is bright and quite full” (No. 7) - “Monteux’s version of Beethoven’s Second Symphony is immensely likeable and I cannot think of another version more liveable with. It has freshness and buoyancy […] The sound too is admirable – clear and lively, yet truthful in perspective and with no lack of body.” (No. 2) Gramophone
“this is a performance I shall come back to often. It is definitely among the Ninths that count” (No. 9) Music Web Int.