Naxos have now given us a CD of two of the most important Beethoven recordings ever made. Klemperer (1885-1973) arguably had a greater feel for the structure of these pillars of the classical repertoire than any other conductor in history. The detail of the music is always expressed to fit within the structure of the bigger picture of the movement as a whole. He was signed up for EMI by the impresario, Walter Legge (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's husband) after Legge heard him conduct at the Festival of Britain in 1951. It would have been much better if Klemperer had recorded a cycle of the Beethoven symphonies in 1951 or 52 but official red tape including problems with his passport held up the start of his contract until 1954 by which time he was nearly 70. That mattered because Klemperer's later recordings show that he was just about to slow up in his tempi gradually over the rest of his career so that the main EMI set of Klemperer Beethoven recorded in about 1958 and in 1960 (the stereo remakes of his earlier mono recordings) are increasingly too slow and unrepresentative of his career as a whole even if his sense of the music's structure is admittedly retained. The earlier mono recordings referred to are a fine Eroica from 1955 and these two recordings of the Fifth and Seventh symphonies. There is actually a stereo version of this 1955 Seventh extant but I believe it is not used here, possibly because of copyright problems - it came to light at EMI later than the mono version. Anyway, for this Fifth and Seventh the good recording quality that EMI had managed by 1955 is uniquely married to Klemperer at his proper tempi. The Philharmonia Orchestra plays exceptionally well for him and, for example, included the great Dennis Brain as first horn before his untimely death in a car crash after the Edinburgh Festival in 1957. Therefore, all the variables point to the outstanding qualities of these recordings.