Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, Beethoven Complete Symphonies and Selected Overtures (Music & Arts, five CDs). Startlingly vivid new transfers of Toscanini’s 1939 radio broadcasts of Beethoven’s nine symphonies. Christopher Dyment calls these performances “the most lucid, dramatic and intense Beethoven cycle ever captured by recorded sound” in his crisply written, comprehensively informed liner notes, and I’m not going to argue. The seventy-three-year-old conductor was at the peak of his ruthless powers, and the NBC Symphony was still an enegetic ensemble of (mostly) youthful virtuosos who were capable of giving as good as they got. Airchecks of the 1939 cycle have been in circulation for decades, but they’ve never sounded half as good as this. Yes, there are other, equally valid ways to play Beethoven, but when you’re listening to this explosively vital set, you’ll likely have trouble remembering them (TT).