Top 5...Symphonies

5. Symphony No.9 in E minor - Dvorak

Known as the "Symphony for the New World", this is our favourite of Dvorak's gorgeous, sweeping symphonies, full of luscious tunes and wonderful orchestration. A close run in were his 7th and 8th Symphonies. The Slovak Radio Orchestra performs his 9th superbly on this album.




4. Symphony No.8 in B minor: the "Unfinished Symphony" - Schubert

Despite never finishing this Symphony - only two movements survive, instead of the usual four - this is actually one of Schubert's greatest works. Unusually, both movements are in triple time - giving the symphony an energetic flow with vivid, soaring melodies - probably the reason it is often called Schubert's first "Romantic" Symphony. Conductor Guido Cantelli really gets the right atmosphere in this album.




3. Symphony No. 4 in E minor – Brahms

Premiered in 1885 with Brahms himself conducting, this is his last Symphony - and we think the best! Dramatic, romantic and thoughtful in turns, it is everything you could wish for in a Symphony. Listen to this recording of the Kölner Rundfunk Sinfonie-Orchester under iconic conductor Hans Knappertsbusch.




2. Symphony No.9 in D major - Mahler

One of the most remarkable works ever composed, Mahler wrote his ninth symphony as he was dying and the score is full of raging drama and bittersweet resolution. One of our favourite performances is this recording with John Barbirolli wielding the baton.




1. Symphony No.9 in D minor - Beethoven

The King of all Symphonies...Beethoven's Ninth had to be our No.1! With not only a full-blown orchestra, but also a choir, this work redefined not just the Symphony, but the whole of classical music for generations to come. Impossible to listen to without singing along to the famous "Ode to Joy" tune from the last movement. This recording with Herbert von Karajan is masterly.