Haitink's Beethoven symphonies set with the LSO is one that I have found fascinating, and it never ceases to interest me. That's not to say that it is perfect, as there are things about it that keep it from being entirely successful, but nonetheless, Haitink's approach is always interesting, always fresh. My biggest complaint with it was that it didn't touch much on Beethoven's masculine side, and Beethoven's unrivaled symphonic genius was never fulfilled. This is mainly a concern in the odd numbered symphonies, where Beethoven shows off his structural mastery more than in the even numbered ones. Haitink's approach, with its sensitivity and sense of humor works wonderfully in the 4th and 8th symphonies that are on this disc. I still think Haitink could have given us more of Beethoven's structural genius, but what he does say is so musical that it's tough to say much bad about it.
I won't go into too much more detail, but I should point out a few things about how Haitink achieves what he does. First of all, Haitink's underlying view of the works is not one of frightening power but rather of cheerfulness and wit. You'll realize the potential these works have to be disarmingly tuneful. It could be argued that this is the whole point of these works, as the power in the odd numbered symphonies far surpasses these. Either way, Haitink carries through with his argument, and he's convincing almost from beginning to end in both the 4th and 8th symphonies. Both are good, but I'll have to give the nod to the performance of the 8th, where Haitink's freshness is particularly refreshing. Haitink's period awareness is present and the music is complete with fine articulation. You certainly won't be able to sit still as Haitink delves into the music, pulling out plenty of fun. I can't listen to it without wanting to smile.
In closing, even if Haitink's complete set has things lacking, this disc is the very best of his efforts, and there's no reason that you shouldn't check it out.