Symphony No. 1:
A survey of the first symphonies of various composers that I have in my collection.
If you happen to not have Beethoven 1 in your collection, and do not want to spring for a set, there are literally dozens of options out there. I think the best bet would be the classic Szell/Cleveland release. Along with a great 6th, there is some great conducting, good energy and good sound. However there is a new box set of the Szell Beethoven symphonies that is well worth getting.
On the other hand…..I can’t resist……..okay, if you think you may want the Toscanini Beethoven Symphony set, but are hesitant due to the age of the recordings, the old RCA release of the 1st and 3rd is still available used, very cheap. Well worth going for it in my opinion, I can bet you will want the whole set after listening to it…. I do not have this particular release, and BMG remastered a lot of these old recordings twice, so your mileage may vary on this release.
Another good choice is the Bohm / Vienna Philharmonic DG Double set, with Symphony 1, 2, 4 and 5. This was my first set of Beethoven Symphonies on vinyl, and while I have other sets, this one still hold up great. Good sound with solid performances.
Originally posted in 2012, updated in 2019