It's hard to know how to assess Dorati's Beethoven, because his middle-of-the-road interpretation almost literally straddles the line between Toscanini's kinetic Beethoven and the traditional respectful Mittel Europa approach. Dorati may have been Hungarian, but he wasn't fiery; he had the good luck to make a hi-fi spectacular of Wellington's Victory complete with Cannons recorded at West Point - an LP I adored as a young teen. That bestseller, abetted by Mercury's reputation for sonics, is the basic support of this Beethoven Seventh, which otherwise would be a no-show compared with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Sym. from the same era, still one of the best choices. The London Sym. plays well, and the conducting is shipshape throughout.
The real problem is that dorati can't find anything memorable to do. Tempos are conventional, the energy level is unremarkable (unlike the young Carlos Kleiber), and there's no sense of authority as with Karajan. the best movement is the fast finale, done with a nice sense of propulsion, if not the blazing excitement of Karajan's famous version in his first Beethoven cycle for DG. The fillers proceed in the same vein of musical competence plus good sound. As they've aged - and been turned into digital transfers - the remarkable nature of Mercury's sonics doesn't seem as evident as in the past, but in this case one potential defect, shrill treble, has been avoided.