Teodor Currentzis has been part of the Sony Classical stable for a few years now, but this release is the first time he’s recorded any Beethoven. Starting with one of the big hitters like the Symphony No 5 is brave; it’s been done so often that there’s not much to rediscover.

Currentzis’ remarks describing his intentions with this recording in the liner notes are a little puzzling; sentences describing one’s “steps towards the desert space of your own intuition outside the luxurious sarcophagus of tradition” is certainly one way of putting it. I’m also impressed by anyone able to casually use the phrase “cosmogonic needs”. What he’s getting at, in the end, is that this recording aims to scrub off some of the assumptions and conventions with Beethoven’s Fifth, and to take a fresh look at it.

Setting aside the purple prose of the notes, Currentzis and MusicAeterna tackle the piece with some impressive gusto. Their interpretation seems to split the difference between some of the historically informed performances (rapid tempos, crisp articulation) and the size and weight of the modern symphony orchestra. It’s a trick that’s been done before, but it works well – MusicAeterna’s performance is full of enthusiasm, and Currentzis’ no-fuss direction brings at least a breath of fresh air to a warhorse of a piece.

While it’s very good, the world probably didn’t need a new recording of Beethoven 5. If you’re absolutely crying out for a new release of it, though, this one would certainly do nicely.

Composer: Beethoven
Work: Symphony No 5
Performers: MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
Label: Sony 19075884972