I made my Spotify playlist of Beethoven last week. It's great to see Spotify offers so many great recordings of LvB's works, and I had to restrain myself to selecting only one interpretation for every composition, otherwise the playlist would stretch for miles. Here's the principles that shaped this playlist:
1, The diversity. There's no such thing as the definite Moonlight sonata, and I hope this playlist could also function as a Beethoven index on Spotify, so I tried to include as many excellent interpretations as possible. For example, for Symphony No.1 I chose Wand's RCA recording for the vivid young spirit, Harnoncourt's No.2 for its thought provoking manner, Walter's Eroica for its sublime humanity, Gardiner's 4th for the blazing energy, Klemperer's 5th for the heaviest sound of fortune's wheel ever captured on wax, Karajan's Pastoral for the sheer beauty, Solti's 7th for its swing, Vänskä's 8th for the dynamics and buoyancy, and Furtwängler's 9th for it's the second coming of Beethoven himself. For the piano sonatas, we've got, among others, Gilels's Hammerklavier, Arrau's Appassionata, Pollini's Moonlight, Horowitz's Waldstein, and, IMHO the greatest recording of Op.109-111 from Richter.
2, The sound quality. Personally I listen to a lot of mono recordings from old masters like Edwin Fischer and Cortot, and if you want to know the Beethoven piano sonatas you really should know Schnabel's recording from the 1930s. But the aim of this playlist is mainly to present Beethoven's works in descent sound quality that will please most classical listeners, so I chose mostly stereo recordings. Only one sonata by Schnabel so that you can find his complete set at ease.
3, The opus numbers. You can find many complete sets of Beethoven's symphonies, chamber works etc. on Spotify, so I didn't sort this playlist by genre, but simply followed the order of the opus numbers. And I didn't include any of the WoOs here, so no Für Elise:) All the WoOs might be another playlist someday.
OK, here's the Spotify playlist of Ludwig van Beethoven: Op. 1-138 (632 tracks, 2.8 days) And this is the wiki page for the list of works.
I hope it will help you to enjoy LvB's music. To me, I absolutely adore him, but also afraid to come to him too close. He is like the Kurosawa of music, the man of men with incomparable genius, moral integrity and the earth-shattering power. Every time I put on a Kurosawa film, I carefully prepared to be knocked down beforehand. Beethoven is the same for me, only more frightful because he was deaf:)