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4.8 out of 5 stars21
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 November 2007
Although over 35 yours old, this recording of Beethoven's Sixth is truly sublime. The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is superb, and the pianissimi in the slow movement are breathtaking. Böhm's tempi are ideal, and expressively flexible. This is no whistle-stop tour of the countryside from an air-conditioned coach; you feel you are out in the open and free to linger in the most beautiful areas, take part in the peasants' lively dance, and run from the approaching storm. Many performances of the Pastoral are dull, but not this one!

The Schubert Fifth is also a very good performance, although I wish DG had been able to put Böhm's exquisite "Unfinished" together with the Beethoven on this CD.
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on 17 September 2007
This recording 1971 of Beethovens 6th is one of Karl Böhms greatest recordings. His reading of this symphony is glorius and it remains one of the finest of the work ever recorded. The sound quality is splended. A real desert island CD. Buy it.
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This particular recording of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony has been regarded as the top recommendation by critics since it was first released. For me, that has tended to be a reason to avoid. I always have a fear of being disappointed.

I am working through my collection of LPs in alphabetical order and have just reaquainted myself with this recording (I don't know the Schubert recording so am just commenting on the Beethoven). My fear was that it might be a tad too tame or sleepy and lack the more revolutionary fire that other conductors have brought to it. Knowing about Beethoven's despair at at the gradual loss of his hearing and his revolutionary tendencies, a middle of the road performance like this one may seem less relevant to modern listeners.

I had no need to worry. I think it is a marvellous interpretation. The Vienna Philharmonic play like gods, absolutely gorgeous string tone and lovely piquant wind playing. I did find that the storm movement lacked the kind of violent edge that other conductors bring to this section of the work but it is still exciting. This is just wonderful music making from an orchestra and conductor with complete understanding of the music and each other and I would recommend anyone to listen to it.
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on 13 December 2013
This is a glorious recording made in 1971. I used to have the original LP version a long time ago. By the time of the recording, Bohm was very old and he probably let the orchestra play as they wanted. The VPO, of course, excels in Viennese classics and this sunny programme music totally suites their style.

The tempi in the first and the second movements are slightly slower than the recordings by other well-known conductors. Although this may not be to every listener's taste, I think it is appropriate, given the happy and serene feelings the composer depicted while staying in the countryside outside Vienna in summer. The second movement ("Scene by the brook") has a tempo marking of "Andante molto mosso". How wonderfully the VPO plays this movement, using subtle rubato! No other recordings I have listened to so far - with the possible exception of Erich Kleiber and Reiner - are as expressive as the present Bohm version.

The rest of the work is also performed marvellously. The final movement is an apotheosis of the nature that Beethoven worshipped. I have listened to many different recordings so far, but no other version can match the present Bohm's version.
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on 4 December 2013
As such it joins Pollini's Chopin Etudes, or the Alban Berg's Mozart on Teldec, as benchmark records that EVERYBODY had or aspired to. No classical collection was complete then - or now - without them. Also, the one Beethoven recording I could not be without.

Klemperer, Karajan in his attempts, even Kletzki never came close to Bohm's technically perfect and poetic reading of the Pastoral. Just take as an example the point in the idyllic Szene am Bach where the lullaby melody is ebbing and momentarily stops at that remarkable point (8.08) where a chapter closes, a page turns or sleep descends on the mind, or a ticking clock stops...along with the bird calls and sounds of nature. This is a sublime existential touch not found anywhere else! I find Bohm's easy going yet tight control over the tempi and dynamics across this whole work, not just here, because the thunder storm scene is as exciting as anything you will find elsewhere, conducive to that spirit of the classical age of the C18 the Enlightenment, the sense of sheer pleasure and enjoyment which is itself a worthwhile achievement (as Kenneth Clark pointed out) of civilization. Thus the Pastoral Symphony is very much a musical counterpart of Watteau, Fragonard and Lancret. It is another aspect of humanity that Beethoven chose to analyse, describe and celebrate in his symphonies. Enjoyment.

How many classical programmes across the world feature this symphony at some point in their Spring or Summer concerts? How many music lovers are consciously reminded of this music by the view of the countryside from a train, of a bus ride? For myself, it is always this particular recording I remember.

Other recordings simply do not exist.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 May 2015
For those who love Beethoven's and Schubert's symphonies, these classic accounts of one by each composer are not to be missed. Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, the "Pastoral", is one of my favourite works by this composer, and the performance here is worth the price of the CD on its own.

The conducting, playing, and recording are all first class.

If you have one or more versions of either of these works already, this inexpensive album should join them. And if you are just starting your collection, this would make an excellent introduction to two of the most famous symphonies.
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on 7 May 2016
It seems like heresy to award this recording only four stars and to use the word "almost" in my headline: Bohm's reading of The Pastoral has been accepted by conventional wisdom as being the best available and most reviewers here concur.

There's nothing wrong with it, of course; nothing to criticise. The VPO play like Gods, the remastered sound is virtually indistinguishable from a modern recording and it's difficult to believe it's thirty-five years old. Bohm's tempi are relaxed and expressive and it's "proper" Beethoven - from long before anyone thought "HIP" was a good idea. The most famous, successful and celebrated conductor from a similar era - Herbert von Karajan - made several attempts at The Pastoral and never approached the perfection Bohm so nearly achieves; and if I hadn't heard one recording which is, in my opinion, better, I would be awarding a full five stars.

I think that's enough teasing. Despite my admiration for Bohm and The VPO, my recommendation for The Pastoral remains the 1957 recording by The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Otto Klemperer.

The two recordings, in fact, sound very similar. Tempi are virtually identical and I'd imagine (though I don't actually know) that Bohm was familiar with Klemperer's recording. If I could put into words what I think Klemperer's recording has, and Bohm's lacks, I would tell you, but I can't. The best advice I can give is to listen to both interpretations and see if you agree with what I'm about to say: Bohm's recording inspires love, deep respect and unending gratitude; but Klemperer's recording inspires awe.

The Schubert 5, by the way, included on this disc, sounds wonderful but, as I lack the familiarity with the work required to offer an informed opinion, I can't say anything more about it. I know The Pastoral pretty well, which is why I have no hesitation in recommending this recording: but, unless I hear something else really special, my top recommendation will always be Klemperer.
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on 19 October 2012
This recording of the sixth symphony is slow in places (though Klemperer is slower in the third movement) but at the moment it's top of my list of favourite interpretations of the Pastorale - alongside Karajan, Klemperer and Harnoncourt.

Bohm often gets lukewarm reactions but I find his conducting (here) is precise and bright. I can only say that I love both recordings. The sound is superb too.
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on 12 October 2012
I bought this recording largely on the review of Musica Vita and others extolling it. I already have the Norrington recordings of the Beethoven symphonies, but the Pastoral symphony to me stands out - at least for the first three and last movements - among his symphonies as depicting a mood of joyful relaxation. The Norrington performance takes the first movement at a breakneck speed - the "coach ride through the countryside!" - and I think he saw the temp marking "Allegro" and didn't go on to read the "ma non troppo"!! I just could not listen to it anymore!!

The Pastoral symphony was one of the first classical works I knew. My parents gave me an LP in the mid 1950s of a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under William Steinberg and rightly or wrongly that has always been my benchmark for the work. At the age of 10 I knew every note of the work!! I wanted to find a performance that lived up to that and so bought the Bohm recording. It is a superlative performance. I must say that I was a little disappointed that the opening phrase of the first movement did not tail off with a slight ralentando, and thought that maybe having bought this recording I was in for yet another roller coaster ride!! However that was my first and last disappointment! The first movement is just that sunny joy at being away from the hustle and bustle of life and enjoying the smells and sounds and sights of countryside. The tempo is just right and also for the slow movement. Some reviewers said it was slow but never ever does it drag. Instead every nuance and shading is uplifting through to the bird song calls at the end of the movement. The third movement is also at a fairly steady tempo but rightly so as these are heavy footed lumbering peasants dancing to the village band. As the opening theme comes around again only to be cut short by the approaching storm, Bohm puts in a slight accelerando - maybe the peasants' are scurrying to get everything under cover before the heavens open? The storm itself breaks out with an Olympian fury that I haven't heard matched in other recordings. The timpani really do "thunder"!! And then the sun comes out again and the last moevemnt is again at a delightful happy yet not rushed tempo. If you want a Pastoral Symphony you can listen to again and again - and again - this is it!!
The Schubert 5th Symphony is as near perfection in music as I think could ever be achieved. I often think that the youthful Schubert wrote what Mozart would have written had he lived into his 40s and 50s. Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic bring this work off superbly and it makes a good contrast to the Beethoven.
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on 31 October 2014
My introduction to the beauty of Brahm's symphonies was via the bargain Decca reissues when I was young, conducted by Bohm.
I spotted this offer and was not disappointed. As an interpreter of this period Bohm and Horenstein are my favourites.
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