Choice favourites - Ulrike's selection

In our ‘Highlights from our video archive’ series, musicians and staff of the Concertgebouw Orchestra select recordings which are of special importance to them. Now the orchestra’s artistic director Ulrike Niehoff presents her choice and the reasons behind it.
photo: Robin de Puy
photo: Robin de Puy
‘Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 conducted by Iván Fischer. The music evokes fond memories, and I think this is a superb recording. I can feel that the musicians are on the edge of their seats from beginning to end, and Fischer is so fantastic when he conducts the Viennese Classics.’

Cassette tape

‘I remember Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony as one of my very first listening experiences. When I was growing up, we had three cassette tapes in the car: one of songs by Georg Kreisler, one of the Swiss cabaret artist Emil, and one of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Seventh Symphony. Even as a little girl, I loved the music, especially the first movement, after the slow introduction – so thrilling, pulsating, urgent. It was a recording of a live performance, and the horns cracked* at the horn call: di diiiii didi di dididiiiii. For me, that’s how it should be – I always expect to hear the horns crack there. But of course, that doesn’t happen on this recording.’

My father

‘The second movement, the funeral march, is one of the most beautiful and most sorrowful movements ever composed. The tempo is crucial – not too fast, not too slow. It has to be played “simply”. Everything you need is right there in the notes. I always well up here because the music reminds me of my late father. We heard the symphony live together so many times. Listening to it now, I feel him close to me.

‘It also makes me think of Vienna, where I lived for twelve years. And where Beethoven would go to the Heurigen (wine taverns), where he composed and performed all his symphonies, and where he was buried, just around the corner from where I lived.’


‘The Seventh Symphony may be one of the most frequently performed works ever, but it never ceases to captivate me. Plus this recording sounds so stunning in the Concertgebouw, and I love the German orchestral arrangement with the violins sitting opposite each other and the cellos in between. This makes the dialogue between the first and second violins very clear.

‘I also love that you can listen to the symphony with Iván Fischer’s commentary in an accompanying video. It’s so beautiful, for example, when he talks about the magnificent, energetic finale, when everything culminates in an incredible, frenzied climax: “The symphony orchestra as a nineteenth-century rock band… If this music doesn’t make you jump from your seat, then nothing will.” Music doesn’t get any better than this.’

*‘Cracking’ is what brass players call it when a wrong note sounds first, followed by the right one (i.e. ti-daa instead of daa). 

Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 conducted by Iván Fischer

Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 with commentary by Iván Fischer