George Szell / The Cleveland Orchestra – Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 (Franklin Mint pressing, red vinyl)


# Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
# Conductor: George Szell
# Orchestra: The Cleveland Orchestra
# Vinyl (1963 / 1981)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# DR Analysis: DR 13
# Label: Franklin Mint Record Society – Record 71 of 100
# Size: 638MB (24/96) + 175MB (16/44.1)
# Recovery: 5%
# Scan: yes
# Server: FF, FP

As always, if anyone has requests for other titles in this set, please add them to the comments or PM me directly.


I admit I have never heard a bad performance of Beethoven’s Fifth. Even Jorge Mester’s joke reading for Peter Schickele and Bob Dennis sounds pretty good to me. It strikes me as a symphony that almost plays itself. At this stage, we’re talking about fine points of wonderful.

Szell’s first movement won’t appeal to those who want a weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Instead, Szell aims for a classical sense of tragedy, and the reading of the entire symphony retains those proportions. For me, the high points of the first movement are the quieter moments – the major second subject, for example – and from the false fugal entry to the end. The second movement moves with lithe grace, never getting bogged down in gooey sentiment. Nevertheless, there’s reasonable power at the trumpet entries, and the contrapuntal passages almost suspend time.

Those who want the first movement to rock their world will also likely meet with disappointment in the third movement. Szell avoids the usual steroids in favor of restraint. This pays off in the transition to the finale, where the music holds its breath before bursting forth in a blaze of brass. The level isn’t all that loud (if you want volume, dial up your amp), but it’s got plenty of power. Furthermore, the transitions from loud to soft and back again will thrill you and lead to massive climaxes, all without yelling. For me, the highlight of the performance once again occurs near the end, with the chirping of the flutes and other winds, as they begin the rush to the concluding bars. – Steve Schwartz,

Track listing

01 – I. Allegro con brio
02 – II. Andante con moto
03 – III. Scherzo: Allegro
04 – IV. Allegro

You can see a listing of the entire Franklin Mint set here.

Ripping Info:

All vinyl is cleaned on a VPI 16.5

Technics SL1200-MK5 (modified)
– Rega RB300 arm with RB700 wiring
– Michell Tecnoweight
– SoundSupports armboard
– Trans-Fi Audio Reso-Mat
Shure V15VxMR (with Jico stylus)
SimAudio Moon 110LP preamp
Native Instruments Audio4DJ USB interface

Processing: Sound Forge 10, ClickRepair (manual mode only), iZotope RX2

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