Steinberg was much admired for his sterling musicianship; the breadth of his repertory, which included much contemporary music; the clarity and precision of his technique; his wit and pipe-smoking geniality; and the collegial relationships he established and maintained with his musicians.
Steinberg conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra many times in Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 and No.8 as well as Symphony No. 55. One is struck at how clean and natural the performance on this excerpt is, without any loss of intensity or excitement. Steinberg is not a manipulator, and although his technique is minimalistic, it is also remarkably full and detailed, and he has the instict of an actor – every movement he makes, every gesture and every glance, is full of character and expression. He smiles when a detail falls exactly into place.
There is a wonderful swing in the trio of Scherzo, and Steinberg uses his elbows as much as his baton to get the point accross – it looks as if he were on a horseback and using the reins to guide the music. The finale is fast and exciting, but never hard-driven or forced; Steinberg seems to have an internal gyroscope and nothing throws him, or the orchestra, off balance
The BSO is a big machine, but Steinberg knows how to turn it on a dime – he manages shifts and contrasts of tempo without lurching.
The complete Beethoven sonatas
Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1977