Beethoven - Symphony No. 6: New York Philharmonic/George Szell

A 1955 recording by the New York Philharmonic.

Composer: Beethoven
Repertoire: Symphony No.6, ‘Pastoral’
Artists: New York Philharmonic/George Szell
Rating: 3/5

Genre: Orchestral
Label: United Archives UAR010

George Szell is associated in most people’s minds with his tenure at the helm of the Cleveland Orchestra between 1946 and 1970, during which he moulded it into an outfit of staggering precision and virtuoso élan. A wag once suggested that Szell was so demanding he even rehearsed the amount of perspiration an orchestra exuded. He also occasionally conducted the New York Philharmonic and this 1955 mono version of Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony was his last commercial recording with them. It’s not perhaps the most affectionate version on disc, but the palpable sense of occasion and Szell’s clarity of vision grips the attention from first to last.