Symphony No. 5

The opening four notes of Beethoven’s groundbreaking work are perhaps the most famous in music history. It’s a work of grand dimensions and limitless colour.


Recommended recording:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Carlos Kleiber
DG 471 6302

Symphony No. 9

In his ninth symphony Beethoven takes the listener from dark solemnity to the heights of exaltation. The finale setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy builds to an explosive climax.

Recommended recording:
Tomowa-Sintow, Baltsa, Schreier, Van Dam, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Karajan DG 477 6325

Piano Sonata No. 29 (Hammerklavier)

Deemed unplayable when it was first published, Beethoven’s most technically difficult sonata covers more emotional ground than any of the other 31.

Recommended recording:
Stephen Kovacevich (piano)
EMI Classics 965 9222

Violin Concerto

A serene, peaceful concerto that embraces a soaring first-movement theme and a rather mischievous, playful finale.

Recommended recording:
Hilary Hahn (violin), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Zinman
Sony Classical SK 60584

Piano Concerto No. 4

The heart and soul of Beethoven’s astonishing five piano concertos with its expansive, stately first movement and an exuberant, joyful Rondo finale.

Recommended recording:
Till Fellner (piano), Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano
ECM 476 3315


Read reviews of the latest Beethoven recordings here


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.