Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is essentially the same over-processed 1988 transfer of Herbert von Karajan's 1947 Beethoven Ninth that appeared in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series. The reduced surface noise markedly compromises the bloom and openness evident in far more vibrant transfers once available on a single Japanese LP and in a 1983 four-LP Karajan/Vienna boxed set issued for the conductor's 75th birthday. True, EMI now provides extra tracks within the last two movements, but the label should have remastered the whole thing from scratch.
The post-war Vienna Philharmonic was not known for its consistency, but the players obviously follow Karajan's bidding. At 39, Karajan's famous blended, legato-laden style already had begun
to flower, and it's most evident in the slow movement, where the string arabesques float with remarkable evenness, while the wind and brass entrances seamlessly dovetail. However, the first movement and the repeatless Scherzo impressively fuse Toscanini-like drive and Furtwänglerian grandeur. The choral finale boasts the finest vocal quartet gracing any Karajan Ninth, with Hans Hotter on top form in the recitative, Julius Patzak's fervent solo in the march, plus Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Elisabeth Höngen blending beautifully in the cadenza-like passage prior to the final Prestissimo. Tully Potter's excellent booklet notes discuss the recording in the context of its time and the careers of the participants.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Julius Patzak (Tenor),
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano),
Elisabeth Höngen (Alto),
Hans Hotter (Bass)
Herbert von Karajan
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,
Friends of Music Chorus
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 12/1947
Venue: Music Association Great Hall, Vienna
Length: 66 Minutes 58 Secs.
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