Leonard Bernstein - Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 Pastoral
We listen to this one every Sunday morning in our house.
From Tom Service in The Guardian :
"(The Sixth) was premiered at the same, over-ambitious concert in December 1808, and as the symphonic yin to the Fifth’s yang, the Sixth Symphony is just as “radical” as the Fifth – in some ways, more so. I think both pieces are experiments in symphonic extremity, because both are pushing completely different musical boundaries to their limits, and beyond. The realization that Beethoven was composing both symphonies at the same time is simultaneously baffling and astounding – and it’s proof that there ain’t just one Beethoven. On one hand, there’s the scowling man-of-the-people fomenting musical revolution and purging his inner demons through proto-minimalist compression and white-hot energy (that’s the Fifth, by the way!), and on the other, there’s the composer content to luxuriate in an early kind of musique concrète by transcribing birdsong into a symphony, who has time to allow his imagination to flow and fly, apparently unfettered by the constraints of formal convention or symphonic concision (that’s the Pastoral). They’re both wildly different, but they’re still only two sides of the nine-sided coin that is Beethoven’s symphonies."