Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 & 5
The idea that Beethoven's "even-numbered" can in any way be automatically regarded as of a more docile nature than his "odd-numbered" symphonies was never more strongly dispelled by Toscanini than in the slow introduction to this Fourth Symphony. The sinisterly dramatic, misterioso atmosphere of this whole remarkable passage was created not by any exaggeration of what Beethoven wrote but, on the contrary, by Toscanini's strictest possible, literal observance of note-values, the production of wonderfully balanced "matching dynamics" and an unvarying rhythm in a slow, dead-right tempo. The
result was that an uncanny sense of tension, of apprehensive understatement was fi nally dispelled only by the outburst of the Allegro vivace.