- Symphony No. 9 in D minor ("Choral"), Op. 125
In 1867, the year of Arturo Toscanini's birth, Beethoven had been dead for just 40 years, Brahms had yet to complete his first symphony, and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde was still the height of modernism. Though Toscanini was a product of the 19th-century, the clarity, precision, and irresistible forward sweep of his recorded performances reflect 20th-century ideals of textual fidelity and technical perfection that were as revolutionary in 1887 (the year of his debut) as they are exemplary today. However, Toscanini was also a passionate musician, always imploring the orchestra to sing and flying into paroxysms of rage when his high standards were not met. This recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, made in 1952 with the orchestra created especially for him by NBC, gave one critic the "strange sensation of being in the heart of a whirlwind"; the sustained intensity and cumulative power may very well cause you to experience your own epiphany with Beethoven's joyous ode.