Recommended Performances

Here is a partial list of my favorite Beethoven performances listed by work category.  In general the first one listed is my "reference" performance, and the following versions stand out because of some unique element - usually because they have a "revolutionary" (or otherwise transgressive) feeling...

I wish I could provide more explanations to each of my choices, perhaps when time permits.  In any case, search for reviews of these recordings on Amazon, there are many great reviewers there....

Symphonies
Complete Cycles of Symphonies:
    Karajan 1963
    Paavo Jaarvi 2009
    Leibowitz
    Toscanini, NBC (1st & 2nd Cycles)

Complete HIP Cycles(Historically Informed Performance, with and without Period Instruments):
    Gardiner, Immerseel, Zinman

Symphony 3 - Tilson-Thomas, Reiner, Goltz
Symphony 5 - C. Kleiber, Harnoncourt (live)
Symphony 7 - C. Kleiber
Symphony 9 - Munch, Hogwood, Furtwangler 1942

String Quartets
    Takacs, Endellion, Guarneri

Piano Sonatas
    Gulda (2nd cycle), Richter (incomplete), Annie Fischer, Paul Badura-Skoda (HIP)
(for this category I did write a post with more details HERE)

Diabelli Variations - Gulda, Richter (Prague),Puppulo, Katchen

Concertos
Piano Concertis:
    1-6 - Schoonderwoerd/Cristofori
    1 - Argerich/Ozawa,  Aimard/COE, Richter/Munch
    2 - Argerich
    3 - Richter/Bakala, Aimard/COE, Annie Fischer/Fricsay
    4 - Katchen/Gamba
    5 - Katchen/Gamba, Gulda
    6 (VC arr) - Barenboim
Choral Fantasia - Brendel/Boettcher, Grimaud, Richter/Sanderling

Violin Cto - Heifetz/Munch, Kopatchinskaja/Herreweghe, J.Fischer/Zinman

Triple Cto - Richter, Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Karajan
    Haitink/COE
    Badura-Skoda/Maier/Bylsma (HIP)

Chamber
Violin Sonatas - Kremer/Argerich, Heifetz, Oistrakh/Richter, Szigeti/Bartok
Cello Sonatas - Maisky/Argerich, Rostropovich/Richter

Choral
Mass in C - Gardiner, Nanut
Missa Solemnis - Bohm, Herreweghe

Overtures
Zinman, Karajan, Munch, Toscanini, Dorati
   
Again this only a partial list, lots of favs are not here (most notably Bernstein, Abbado, Budapest Qrtt, etc...)...but if you have all of the above you should be pretty happy!