There have been many fine Ninths from the world's super orchestras. Recent recordings from Abbado and Rattle in Berlin received acclaim and let's not forget the 1979 Bernstein recording - his only time with the Berliners.
Karajan's live recording is quite unique within his discography. barely two years on from the award-winning studio recording, he sanctions the release of this stupendous, devastatingly emotional performance captured at the Berlin Festival. As is well known, it is breathtaking in its playing and in its conducting. The sound is excellent and the current Gramophone Award Winners issue is very affordable. If you're ready to tackle the Ninth, you couldn't do better. Karajan really locks onto the philosophical victory being dramatized here.
Amongst the very greatest recordings by this prolific team, just how much so was brought home to me again recently while listening to the eloquent but comparatively safe Haitink/RCO version.