The London Symphony Orchestra recorded a complete Beethoven symphony cycle at their resident Barbican theatre between 2005 and 2006, this CD representing symphonies 1 and 5.
There are three versions of this CD. This standard version, a hybrid multichannel SADC version, and a further SADC recording as part of the 6 CD complete symphony box set. All are of the same performance, recorded on the LSO Live label and combining digital recording methods with a `Live' venue (London's Barbican) to produce absolutely faultless versions of the works.
While I do appreciate the merits and historic importance of some of the many interpretations of Beethoven's symphonies, these LSO ones I think find their way to the top of the ever-increasing pile for several reasons - the recordings are of a stunningly clear quality, even better if played on a SACD player, and the performances are dramatic and enthusiastic but never succumbing to an over-personalised account by the conductor. Bernard Haitink does the job to perfection.
The sleeve notes provide the usual tracklist and times, plus a short analysis on each symphony, a brief biography of Haitink, and a full list of LSO orchestra members.
Of the three versions of this recording I would have to recommend the box set for sound quality, value and completeness, but any of the three provide a compelling and exciting interpretation of the symphonies.
An essential addition to any Beethoven collection.