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Beethoven: Symphonies / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

Beethoven / Karajan / Bpo
Release Date: 11/18/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 4777578  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  José Van DamPeter SchreierAgnes BaltsaAnna Tomowa-Sintow
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraVienna Singverein
Number of Discs: 6 
Import   
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Among the absolute highlights is the Seventh Symphony, and within the Seventh the Presto which is simply terrific, riveting – energy and weight used toward very propulsive ends which is taken right into the Allegro con brio.

If Karajan’s 1963 set of Beethoven symphony recordings (recorded 1961-62 on DG) is generally hailed as one of the overall best cycles, Karajan-77 might in some ways be the better Karajan-Beethoven cycle – namely because it is more typical of Karajan and what he had achieved with the Berlin Philharmonic in the many years they were his orchestra. In the same way, the 1980s cycle might be considered as the exaggerated characteristic of everything that was questionable about Karajan’s particular
Read more approach – a trend toward homogeneity gone wrong, with edges first overstated, then smoothed over, and captured in sound worse than either of the predecessors.

Karajan-63 is individual, dynamic, conductor-driven, and – for its time – progressive. A comparison of the best (or at least most exciting) modern interpretations of the “Eroica” Symphony (Paavo Järvi/Bremen on RCA or Osmo Vänskä/Minnesota on BIS) with the Karajan’s 1963 version (available individually as part of the Karajan Master Recordings re-issues and as part of the SACD-remastered cycle) shows that, the ever-missing exposition repeats aside, Karajan created a stunning sound: modern then, timeless today.

Karajan-77 is a more collaborative effort with his orchestra, the detailed sound and clarity of his earlier Beethoven married to the homogenous orchestral sound that is said to have been his ideal. Although the timings are not very different from the earlier cycle (in the “Eroica” Karajan shaves off over two minutes from his previous account, [inadvertently?] coming close to Beethoven’s metronome markings), the symphonies often ‘feel’ a little bit more deliberate because the saturated, secure sound of the orchestra and recording remove any sense of instability, nervous energy.

Among the absolute highlights is the Seventh Symphony, and within the Seventh the Presto which is simply terrific, riveting – energy and weight used toward very propulsive ends which is taken right into the Allegro con brio. In addition to the nine symphonies, this cycle also includes Karajan’s 1960s recordings of the overtures to Egmont, Leonore III, Fidelio, Coriolan, Creatures of Prometheus and Ruins of Athens.

Notable, too, are the excellent liner-notes: three different essays, one in English, German, and French each – that don’t vaguely or generally discuss Beethoven or engage in undue hagiographic Karajan-worship, but poignantly, candidly discuss the specific recordings at hand. The set is available only in the UK it seems - and in the US as an import."

-- Jens F Laurson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
3.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
4.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
5.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
6.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
7.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
8.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 
9.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  José Van Dam (Bass Baritone), Peter Schreier (Tenor), Agnes Baltsa (Mezzo Soprano),
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
Period: Classical 
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975-1977 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Powerful April 7, 2014 By Benjamin F. (Cranberry Twp., PA) See All My Reviews "Being relatively new to the classical scene, i cannot compare many conductors. In this instance, i went by previous reviews. My ears were rewarded with a fantastic recording of Beethoven's symphonies. I found Karajan to have a powerful interpretation of the music which made me search for more of his works. The recording quality of the cd's was excellent as well. A wonderful investment." Report Abuse
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