This is the 5th Beethoven symphonies set that I acquired, the other 4 being Karajan's 1950's, 1970's and 1980's recordings as well as Rattle's 1990's VPO version.
The actual integrity of the performances is second to none - assuming of course, that you like Bernstein's penchant to melodrama. However, the recorded sound is a little dry at times and some of the finer detail struggles to come through. It must be remembered of course that like most if not all of his recordings from the period, they are live.
The standout performance here is certainly No. 9 which has pace and passion all the way, not to mention a fine quartet of soloists (Kurt Moll being my favourite.) No. 7 also fares well and No.3 is fiercely dramatic.
1970's Karajan set is still my firm favourite but this set will not disappoint those looking for a new Beethoven symphony cycle or those exploring the repertoire for the first time.
I read somewhere that although Bernstein recorded longer with Sony and by and large had the better recordings with them, he recorded more with DG in a shorter time until his death in 1990. No doubt this had more to do with practically all his DG recordings being live concerts. He was also helped immensely by the DG sound engineers and digital sound as opposed to SONY analogue with lesser engineers, yet superior versions. Onto this, his second foray recording Beethoven's symphonies which came highly recommended. I invested as I don't have anything complete by Bernstein, apart from a couple of excellent symphonies by Shostakovich. Sadly this doesn't hit the mark on any level. The sound is excellent, the orchestra can play this in their sleep. The conducting is Bernstein at the tail end of his career and it shows. The 5th is too slow and the 9th is ruined by a weak vocal solo. The others are not memorable if you've any other version. If you have Beethoven by any other conductor and are happy, leave this well alone.