I have lived with Beethoven for many many years. These symphonies I know especially well. I cherish several of the Böhm, Karajan, Kleiber (both father and son) but also Brüggen recordings. Then this set appeared, on SACD and in modern recordings, by a director who has long been a favourite of mine in e.g. Bruckner, but also as accompanist of many great soloists over decades.
I won't repeat all what was already said by others. I too had instant hits like his rendering of the 3rd and 9th symphonies - simply superb. In other symphonies, and especially in the 6th which is very close to my heart, I felt more detached while listening. What's going on here, I was wondering. Before I tell you so, and for a reason, I will remark that I had no problems with the recording quality - which on my fairly expensive set-up is simply very good.
I decided that Haitink has deserved the respect that we give him some time. And now, listening to the 6th for the 3rd or 4th time, it is really starting to make sense to me. This is not the Beethoven of a man who wants to prove his point. Nor the Beethoven of a director who wants to be heard to look like one of the pictures of Beethoven. Instead, Haitink is simply himself - while paying great respect to Beethoven's markings. And, I dare say, also to Beethoven's ideas. This is the Beethoven of a mature conductor and great musician who is beyond the need to prove his point.