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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos.4 & 7
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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos.4 & 7

5 Oct. 2000 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 1985
  • Release Date: 5 Oct. 2000
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 1985 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:04:44
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001M04P9Y
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,504 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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By R. Harris on 11 April 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Simply the definitive recording of Beethoven's 7th 13 Mar. 2001
By Joe Jewell - Published on
Format: Audio CD
As another reviewer has mentioned, this faster-than-often-heard recording of the last movement of the 7th simply keeps me on the edge of my seat. Once you've heard this recording, you'll never go back. Von Karajan was a great man, and this is probably my favorite CD of all time (although his recording of Mozart's Requiem on the same label is also in the running).
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Recordings of Both Works 11 Nov. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I've yet to find a recording of Beethoven's Seventh that I prefer to this one. Strangely enough, I've never liked performances that are considered by critics to be better. Most take the finale at a slower tempo and my personal feeling is that the faster tempo Karajan takes works much better. It is an unrestrained explosion of energy that captures perfectly the exhuberance and excitement of the work and to take it slower is a letdown. I would have preferred a lighter touch throughout, but this is the Berlin Philharmonic after all, and a rich, full, and somewhat heavy sound is their trademark.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Superficial And Disappointing From The Master Karajan 5 Aug. 2006
By dv_forever - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I am a big fan of Karajan, he's overall my favorite conductor, but just because I admire the man for many of his achievements, that feeling does not infect my objectivity and critical judgement. Here is a case in point, two symphonies from his last Beethoven cycle, the digital one from the 1980's.

There is a real element of slickness and emotional coolness about the whole affair. To be fair, the 4th symphony fairs quite well overall, the introduction to the opening movement doesn't have all that much mystery but really, how many conductors since Furtwangler even give large thought to the intricate mysteries that lie at the heart of Beethoven's symphonic output? After the intro, Karajan explodes into the allegro, very dramatic indeed and the whole movement is done with vigor and life. The adagio is a bit detached but it's nothing new from Karajan. The last two movements go by well even though I can't understand Karajan's continual insistence to drop the final movement's exposition repeat! Yes, in every cycle Karajan recorded, he dropped this rather innocuous repeat which is only 1:30 in length! Furtwangler was always wise to keep this last repeat intact. Both Karajan and Furtwangler dropped the first movement repeat and I respect their decision there, that was the fashion of the day.

Moving forward to the 7th symphony and you get your problems. This is the kind of superficial performance that Karajan's hateful critics attack him for and this time they are right! All the timings are basically the same as the earlier cycles from the 60's and 70's but this 7th from the 80's is comparatively lackluster when judged alongside the version from the 60s. Here are a few glaring examples. The allegretto opens up like slush, it is so smoothed over that you can't even hear the famous rhythm! The Penguin Guide went so far as mention this defect in their review as well. The allegretto in Karajan's hands was always lacking in emotional depth, every version he ever made was in the mold of Toscanini. I much prefer the love, depth and gravity a conductor like Furtwangler brought to this beloved symphonic movement. A recent fascinating 7th symphony by Christian Thielemann also took the Furtwangler approach of the slow tempo in the allegretto. I say to hell with the period instrument hacks and their glibness in this beautiful testament to Beethoven's art!

Onto the finale, the last disappointment here. Initially you might find the fast tempo and explosive attack very exciting, however if compared to Karajan's 60's version which is available in terrific remastered sound in the Complete Beethoven Edition Volume 1 as well as on SACD, you will notice major differences. Here on Karajan Gold, the horns are much more recessed and so is the timpani, the recording is not well defined and what you get is a big, fat juicy mess instead of the bolts of lighting that rang out in the earlier Karajan record. In that 60's account the horns leap out of the orchestra and make you smile and the timpani actually make an impact, it has some aural distinction unlike the record you're looking at here.

Overall, this digital cycle has a very intense Eroica, on the same level as the famous early 60's cycle. This digital cycle also has a massively invigorating 8th symphony. As far as the rest are concerned, Karajan has done better before, he really has.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Karajan's great Seventh is as good as ever in digital sound 14 July 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Karajan's late digital cycle of Beethoven symphonies hasn't gotten much love from critics, but in many cases his interpretations are unchanged from earlier years. That's certainly true of the Seventh, which Karajan made a specialty in his long career. His 1963 account, often considered a landmark along with Carlos Kleier's a decade later, is duplicated in its entirety here. We get the same rhythmic vitality, a slightly faster Allegretto, and astonishing virtuosity in the swirling finale. The good news is that DG's sonics, now remastered for the Karajan Gold edition, are exceptionally good, far better than the Sixties analog sound of the earlier version.

Karajan's Fourth is just as fine. It's authoritative and yet nimble and vivacious. By the Eighties he was no longer a modernist in Beethoven as he had been in the era of Furtwangler--his penchant for leaner textures and faster tempos had been adopted by dozens of othe conductors and ultimately owed its origins to Toscanini. But the Fourth remains fresh, and in improved sound it, too, goes ahead of its Sixties predecessor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
End Times 9 Sept. 2012
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Karajan's vicissitudes with the Berlin Philharmonic towards the end of his reign are well known. In his biography on the conductor, Osborne recounts an episode (circa 1988-ish) when Karajan commenced a rehearsal but the orchestra ignored him: the chit-chat did not cease. Karajan returned home and duly informed his spouse: "it's over." A resignation was forthcoming and he made his last recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic.

The beginning of the end, if you ask me, is this disc, recorded some five years beforehand - and while many fine performances lay in the future (not least Brahms: Symphony No. 1; Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht), the great partnership was clearly doomed. I agree completely with my fellow reviewer, DV_F: these performances of the B Flat and A Major symphonies are not a patch on his previous surveys of these works. The slickness that mars the Seventh has received much commentary over time. But to my mind, the more interesting document is the Fourth. It is tension personified.

Recently, a remastered version of the Fourth from the '77 cycle came into my possession. I love it. It's quite an experience to listen to it as one walks through wheat-fields in early spring. I erroneously thought to myself: Karajan has observed the second half-repeat in the scherzo, much like he did in the Pastoral from the same cycle. Much to my surprise, I sat down yesterday to find that the timings are roughly identical in both 1977 and 1983. And while the latter recording is a characteristic of the Berlin Philharmonic in its amplitude and torque, it is bereft of the joy of the former. The 1977 performance sounds like a repeat is in play because the orchestra luxuriates in the joy of Beethoven's creation. Come 1983, one senses a highly proficient determination to discharge a contractual obligation to an increasingly hated figure. These comments are true of the other three movements: they are exceedingly well played but such is the tension, it's a miracle the strings across the orchestra did not snap in two.

The Digital Cycle has a great Eroica and Eighth and parts of the Ninth command attention. The remainder was caught up in the bonfire. Note, the Sony video of the Fourth was recorded a year or so before this DG production (Herbert Von Karajan - His Legacy for Home Video: Ludwig Van Beethoven - Symphonies 4 and 5) and it mirrors the '77 performance in its joie de vivre.
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