Sir Simon’s new Berlin cycle on the orchestra’s home label combines the HIP with a roundly Romantic underbelly.

Symphonies Nos 1-9
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle
Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR160091 (5CD & 3Blu-ray)

Beethoven has a way of shining a mirror onto you. Just saying “Okay, this is where I am, this is where you are”. You just have to try and be as honest as you can in the moment. That’s all you can do  – Sir Simon Rattle

BPO delivers rattling good Beethoven

Simon Rattle is on record as saying that Furtwängler’s 1942 recording of the ChoralSymphony epitomises everything genuinely great about the Berlin Philharmonic. And here’s the great paradox of this fresh Beethoven cycle, recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic in October 2015 – a decade on from his first attempt with the Vienna Philharmonic, Rattle has managed to make the yin and yang of HIP and a Romantic underbelly coexist and these Berlin Philharmonic readings sound less obviously indebted to its own heritage.

Indeed, the first two symphonies here are noticeably hands-off interpretations...