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Beethoven: 9 Symphonies; Overtures
 
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Beethoven: 9 Symphonies; Overtures

10 Feb. 2014 | Format: MP3

£16.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Buy the CD album for £15.90 and get the MP3 version for FREE. Does not apply to gift orders.
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Song Title Artist
Time
Popularity  
30
1
7:45
30
2
6:03
30
3
3:35
30
4
5:27
30
5
10:26
30
6
9:58
30
7
5:51
30
8
5:37
30
9
8:19
Disc 2
30
1
10:16
30
2
9:57
30
3
3:40
30
4
6:10
30
5
11:24
30
6
7:57
30
7
7:17
30
8
6:24
Disc 3
30
1
13:28
30
2
16:27
30
3
6:09
30
4
11:35
30
5
14:43
Disc 4
30
1
7:08
30
2
9:27
30
3
4:37
30
4
8:38
30
5
8:53
30
6
3:47
30
7
5:15
30
8
6:30
30
9
6:57
Disc 5
30
1
9:03
30
2
11:21
30
3
5:39
30
4
3:29
30
5
8:34
30
6
8:57
30
7
5:19
30
8
5:22
Disc 6
30
1
15:20
30
2
10:03
30
3
16:50
30
4
6:26
30
5
17:56
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 2008
  • Release Date: 10 Feb. 2014
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 2008 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 6:13:59
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LXOEZ2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,244 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Format: Audio CD
Yes, as we all know, 90% of listeners prefer the 1963 cycle, relegating the likes of me firmly to the Minority. Here is my Apologia for the 1976 / 1977 cycle (& please note, given the endless debates, plagiarism is unavoidable):

1 - The 1977 Ninth is widely considered to be among the greatest recordings of all time - it is the Transit of Jupiter set to music. In the very least, it is the equal of its predecessor as a performance and the choir do not sound as if they were recorded at the bottom of the River Spee. As others have noted, Herbie red-lines himself at the end of the symphony and this is a rarity for such a highly controlled conductor. The sheer ferocity of the first movement is sui generis (with apologies to Toscanini). When comparing cycles, the better Nine must surely carry weight.

2 - The Pastoral is a far more relaxed affair than the overly tense 1963 performance and the key repeat in the scherzo is observed. Many people are not convinced by Herbie's reading of the Pastoral per se: again, I am in the Minority and this 1976 performance, IMO, is the best actualisation of his approach. For instance, the great Brucknerian blaze-ups in the finale are 'Affirmations of Being' - and how they resonate!

3. Again, as others have noted, the October 1976 performance of the Seventh is a once off. It might seem too 'stringy' to modern ears but what strings they are. The 1963 performance is superlative, but there is something about its successor that is ultimately inexplicable and thus all the more electrifying. The opening of the slow movement is the Oresteia set to music.

4. Herbie excelled in the Eroica. Indeed, even the 1984 'Karajan Gold' performance has strong - if not stronger - claims on a collector (along with the superlative 8).
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Format: Audio CD
Beethoven Symphonies 1 - 9. Berliner Philharmoniker and the Wiener Singverein. With Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Peter Schreier, Agnes Baltsa and Jose van Dam. Recorded 1977. Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.

Karajan's second cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic immediately strikes you as 'heavy'. This is especially so if you have been listening continuously to performances more conscious of historical practices. This, as opposed to those performances where a conventional orchestra is used and a more 'lofty', personal view is imparted. From my perspective, many of these performances are often quite beautiful and have all the best hallmarks of what could be called the Karajan middle-late period (1970s). I think what I like best is the fact that he seems to have never compromised on his 'vision' of these works - even though the individual interpretations changed quite a lot between the 1963 and 1977 cycles - he never sacrifices his own feeling for precision and seamless beauty. That commitment is why I admire this conductor so much.

Between the two cycles (1963 and 1977), there are sharp contrasts and with mixed results. On the plus side this time, Karajan observes the repeats in the Sixth and the performance is more reflective as a result. Additionally, his more relaxed approach (more distinctively 'Karajan' than 'Karajan looking back at Toscanini') tends to let these amazing works radiate with more humanity. I have read elsewhere that Karajan's approach can be rather strict and icy cool - in the 1977 cycle at least, there is a much stronger sense for a human touch (in the Eroica and the Choral, the impression of the latter is 'dramatic' rather than 'firebrand' as in 1963).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have all four of Herbert von Karajan's Beethoven cycles and for me, of the three he recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic, this is the best. Although his first Berlin cycle, recorded in the '60s, contains some remarkable things, I always get the feeling that Karajan and the Berliners had yet to fully adjust to each other. On the other hand, the final (digitally recorded) cycle of the 80s seems to reveal an over-familiarity between Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. There is a distinct feeling of 'going through the motions' as both conductor and his virtuoso orchestra revisit ground they have trodden so often in the past, but this time without much joy in making music together (the relationship had soured by then and the seeds of rebellion were germinating in the ranks). One only has to hear the plodding Symphony No. 1, the rushed, perfunctory first movement of the Pastoral or the 8th, where the fun appears to have been replaced by naked aggression, to get a feel of the situation.
In contrast, the 1970s cycle reveals a conductor and orchestra at the peak of their powers, completely at one with each other and thoroughly enjoying themselves in effortless music-making. There is a spring-like energy bubbling up the first two symphonies, a powerful Eroica with a wonderfully atmospheric funeral march, a dynamic 5th, a gloriously relaxed Pastoral which vies with Karajan's classic 1950s Philharmonia recording (for me, the finest of all von K's Beethoven cycles), a great, energetic 7th, an ebullient, cheeky 8th and a superb, fully mature 9th. The recording (in the Philharmonie) may be a little over-resonant for some, but all the clarity is there (in fact, some passages sound more detailed than in the later digital account).
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