Andris Nelsons, the leading conductor of his generation, has recorded all nine Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic. Their cycle promises to reveal the compelling partnership between the conductor and the most renowned Beethoven orchestra in the world. Beethoven: Complete Symphonies, released 4 October 2019, is presented in a deluxe box set featuring five CDs and a single Blu-ray Audio disc in TrueHD sound quality. The release marks the start of Deutsche Grammophon’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth next year.
Beethoven has been central to Andris Nelsons’ work since he began his career in the early 2000s. The Latvian conductor received outstanding reviews for his 2013-14 Beethoven cycle with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was critically acclaimed for more recent Beethoven performances as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhausorchester. In March and April this year he joined the Vienna Philharmonic, the world’s supreme Beethoven orchestra, for a series of concerts including works by the composer in Vienna, Hamburg and Hanover, and for the final recording sessions of their complete symphony cycle at the Vienna Musikverein. Nelsons said it was an honour and a privilege to be invited to perform and record the symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic.
“The journey of interpreting Beethoven’s symphonies signifies a great opportunity, responsibility and challenge, but in the end, it’s not about me, it’s purely about the genius and universal quality of Beethoven’s music, which speaks to each and every individual,” explained Andris Nelsons. “Of course, I need to have a vision, and our task as musicians is to find a fulfilling way of presenting Beethoven’s ideas to listeners, but this will always be very subjective and deeply personal.”
Beethoven’s complete symphonies
Beethoven’s nine symphonies reveal the unique qualities of his compositional art, which astonished his contemporaries. They also reflect the turbulent age in which he lived and demonstrate the remarkable changes he wrought in the genre itself. Each work marks a new step from the one before: from the more conventional First, still reminiscent of Haydn and Mozart, via the revolutionary Eroica, with its incredible expressive range, the Fifth and Sixth, both radical in their different ways, and the dancelike vitality of the Seventh, to the wholly original, dramatic and life-affirming Ninth, whose message for humanity has long transcended the concert hall.
“It’s music for our time and all time” – Andris Nelsons
Over the past century the symphonies have been recorded as a complete cycle more than 160 times by an array of legendary conductors, whose ranks Andris Nelsons now joins. “There are so many amazing recordings of the Beethoven symphonies from the past, but I believe his music always has something to say about the present day,” he observed .“Being able to perform and record these works of genius again and again allows musicians to emphasise just how real they are for their own generation and for future generations. It’s music for our time and all time.”
Andris Nelsons and the Vienna Philharmonic will perform complete cycles of Beethoven’s symphonies next year in Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna.
Beethoven: Complete Symphonies, recorded by Andris Nelsons and the Vienna Philharmonic, can be bought here.