Bernstein’s Beethoven Symphony Cycle remastered

This set comprises 5CDs + 1 Blu-ray Audio disc presenting Bernstein’s legendary Beethoven cycle with the Wiener Philharmoniker. It was recorded live at the Musikverein between 1977-1979 (though with some studio repairs after each concert) and it has remained a staple of the catalogue ever since.

This release marks the start of Bernstein At 100, a world-wide celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, the composer, conductor, educator, musician, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian, officially beginning on August 25, 2017, Bernstein’s 99th birthday, and continuing through his 100th year until August 25, 2019. This cycle of Beethoven Symphonies, remastered at 192kHz/24-bit, is the first product in Deutsche Grammophon’s suite of Bernstein releases to mark the occasion.

The video below gives a fascinating glimpse of the way in which the Choral Symphony was remastered.

This cycle has been available as part of “The Leonard Bernstein Edition”, “DG Panorama”, the “Leonard Bernstein Collectors’ Edition” and more recently the 60-disc “Leonard Bernstein Collection: Vol. 1”. However they have never sounded this good before in this skilfully remastered set. These are the finest Bernstein – Beethoven recordings available; however real the star of this show is the Wiener Philharmoniker who play beautifully.

Certainly the performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92 and Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 ‘Choral’ in this set are much better than the more famous recordings of Bernstein’s last concert and the Berlin Wall concert, respectively.

There are better Beethoven cycles to be had but if you are a Bernstein fan and don’t have the set already then it is a must buy.

iClassical rating: 

Stream on Qobuz or buy from Presto Classical.