… ma non troppo!

“I look upon the invention of the metronome as a welcome means of assuring the performance of my compositions everywhere in the tempi conceived by me, which to my regret have so often been misunderstood.”

– Beethoven

To listen press on the audio player below
(you can also download the file –
click on the three dots on the right):

To use the carousel, click on or touch the number 1 on the top left; it will open up to fill your screen, you can then move through the four slides (while still listening to my mellifluous tones) by using the arrows at the side; to leave it simply press Escape (Esc) or, on your phone or tablet, the small x in the top right hand corner (Apple users please let me know if any of this works).

42 performances of those opening 21 bars (use the red timings to see that particular interpreter or, in the complete performances, that particular movement) …

0:00​ Leonard Bernstein, Wiener Philharmoniker
0:25​ Paavo Järvi, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
0:42​ Daniel Barenboim, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
1:03​ John Eliot Gardiner, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
1:22​ Christian Thielemann, Wiener Philharmoniker
1:43​ Claudio Abbado, Berliner Philharmoniker
2:01​ Pierre Boulez, New Philharmonia Orchestra
2:27​ Simon Rattle, Wiener Philharmoniker
2:44​ Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra
3:07​ Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Philadelphia Orchestra
3:21​ Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker
3:41​ Franz Welser-Möst, London Philharmonic Orchestra
4:02​ Myung-Whun Chung, Seoul Philharmonic
4:22​ George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
4:43​ Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Berliner Philharmoniker
5:02​ Mikhail Pletnev, Russian National Orchestra
5:30​ Gianandrea Noseda, NHK Symphony Orchestra
5:45​ Riccardo Muti, Philadelphia Orchestra
6:07​ Edo de Waart, Hong Kong Philharmonic
6:24​ Daniel Harding, Mahler Chamber Orchestra
6:41​ Karl Böhm, Wiener Philharmoniker
7:06​ Seiji Ozawa, NHK Symphony Orchestra
7:26​ Gustavo Dudamel, Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra
7:47​ Herbert Blomstedt, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
8:06​ Peter Eötvös, Ensemble Modern
8:25​ Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony
8:47​ Teodor Currentzis, MusicaEterna
9:03​ Sergiu Celibidache, Münchner Philharmoniker
9:27​ David Zinman, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich
9:46​ Osmo Vänskä, Minnesota Orchestra
10:05​ Erich Kleiber, Concertgebouw Orchestra
10:24​ Carlos Kleiber, Wiener Philharmoniker
10:46​ Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra
11:13​ Andris Nelsons, Wiener Philharmoniker
11:32​ Philippe Herreweghe, Royal Flemish Philharmonic
11:48​ Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony
12:08​ Roger Norrington, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR
12:26​ François-Xavier Roth, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln
12:42​ Iván Fischer, Concertgebouworkest
13:02​ Wilhelm Furtwängler, Berliner Philharmoniker (1954)
13:29​ Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Frankfurt Radio Symphony
13:47​ Masato Usuki, Freude Philharmonie
14:14​ Glenn Gould (Liszt Piano Transcription)

Two contrasted views of the work. While Karajan is no sluggard when it comes to tempo, what’s more of interest is the differences between the big, Berlin Philharmonic, modern orchestral sound and the scaled-down, period instrument approach of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Which do you prefer?

Allegro con brio 1:02
Andante con moto 8:29
Allegro – Scherzo 17:59
Allegro 22:53

Allegro con brio 00:01
Andante con moto 06:50
Allegro – Scherzo 15:30
Allegro 22:49

Should you want to follow through on any of the other performances:

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on YouTube

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as “fair use”, for the purpose of study, and critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s).

5 thoughts on “… ma non troppo!

  1. I really enjoyed the version with the period intruments. I found the other version too loud and busy. Probably just me!

  2. I enjoyed the contrasting approaches in how conductors tackled the famous five. The differences in speed are amazing. Why so fast when what is being represented is ‘fate knocking at the door’? I was trying to detect differences in how they emphasised the quavers – if at all. Not so easy.

  3. A fascinating range of performances and conducting styles! Speed is, or should be, determined partly by the resonance of the hall. I thought Gardiner played it too fast in such a resonant acoustic. My favourite was Erich Kleiber, plenty of brio and crystal clear.

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