Conductor Roger Norrington's performances of Beethoven were controversial in the 1980s when he first offered them; they were controversial in 2002, when he conducted these performances with the late, lamented Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra; and they remain controversial in this 2020 release, even if perhaps as time goes by they become more permanent fixtures of the landscape. Norrington here transferred his historical performance techniques to a modern-instrument orchestra. His trademarks are present: fast tempos that follow the metronome markings from late in Beethoven's life, ignored by most musicians, avoidance of vibrato, and punchy accents that bring out the wind and especially the brass parts. Whatever one thinks of Norrington's readings, it's not possible to claim that he is imposing a system on the music: his readings are detailed and careful. The attraction of this set is that he has a modern orchestra that can follow him through the changes he applies to the Beethoven symphonies. Consider the first movement of the Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ("Pastoral"), wonderfully delicate despite the high speed. It's worth noting that Norrington is extrapolating backward regarding the tempo for most of these works; Beethoven didn't get a metronome (and it may have been a defective one) until the mid-1810s. The Andante cantabile of the Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21, is a brisk walk indeed, but it does remain cantabile. The problem with Norrington's approach is that when Beethoven does mark a movement Presto, in the Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, he has nowhere to go: his Presto is hardly faster than his other Allegro movements, and in the finale of the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, he doesn't brutalize the singers with the logical conclusion of his proportions; that movement is brisk but not overly rapid. Again, all these movements, and all the rest of them, are well crafted, and ultimately listeners must decide for themselves about Norrington's approach, which has certainly proven itself durable. The original sound quality and the mastering from the new SWR Music label are unusually good.