How to Build a Classical CD Collection

3. Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 & Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral"

The classical symphony is the characteristic orchestral form used by composers of the High Classical period of Western music in the second half of the eighteenth century. As with the sonata, a comparable form of music but for one or two instruments only, Beethoven expanded the symphony in a remarkable way. The fifth of his nine symphonies is well enough known from its first four notes - "Thus Fate knocks at the door", Beethoven is supposed to have remarked. It was completed in 1808 and first performed together with other works at a long and not particularly successful concert on 22nd December of the same year. The Pastoral Symphony completed in the same year, expresses Beethoven's feelings recollected in tranquillity after a visit to the country. The music includes bird-song, a storm and shepherd merry-making, once the storm has passed

Recommended recording
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 & Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral", played respectively by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra under Richard Edlinger and the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra under Michael Halász. Naxos 8.553224

The complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies Naxos 8.505001 is also available on the Naxos label