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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning
I cannot add much to Bernard O'Hanlon's review on Amazon.com other than to endorse his enthusiasm: this is a performance like none other. It's as if the Berlin Philharmonic has been told that if they don't impress the Muscovite audience they'll be shot at dawn - except the first mighty chords of the "Coriolan" I was the one checking myself for bullet-holes. The attack,...
Published on 16 Jan. 2012 by Ralph Moore

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shock and flaw
I love all of Karajan’s other Beethoven 5s; the fiery urgency, the weight of tone, the heaven-shifting awesomeness, and yes, the spirituality, make most recorded performances seem mired in the earth. In this live performance though, he seems more concerned with showing the Moscow audience what he could wring out of the BPO in terms of savage virtuosic attack, rather...
Published 8 months ago by ensign


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning, 16 Jan. 2012
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven Symphony Nos 5 & 6 (Karajan in Moscow Vol.1) (Audio CD)
I cannot add much to Bernard O'Hanlon's review on Amazon.com other than to endorse his enthusiasm: this is a performance like none other. It's as if the Berlin Philharmonic has been told that if they don't impress the Muscovite audience they'll be shot at dawn - except the first mighty chords of the "Coriolan" I was the one checking myself for bullet-holes. The attack, the sheer élan, the sense of the orchestra being one mighty organism dedicated to glorifying Beethoven is overwhelming; it rivals Furtwängler's 1947 recording with the VPO. The momentum continues with a positively manic Fifth; more shock and awe tactics in the opening Allegro con brio are complemented by a Finale which takes no prisoners.

After such galvanic eructions it would be unreasonable to expect a relaxed Pastoral; there is still too much static in the air. Instead, Karajan opts for a fast-running, streamlined gallop through the countryside where the BPO's delicacy and finesse can be given a trot round the paddock before they are once more let off the reins and given their head.

The Muscovites in the Great Hall are rather bronchial for so usually respectful an audience and the sound, while clear, is narrowly focused for a stereo recording but this in no way compromises our appreciation of the greatness of the event.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shiver Me Timbers, 17 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Beethoven Symphony Nos 5 & 6 (Karajan in Moscow Vol.1) (Audio CD)
Unlike Fedor von Bock and Army Group Centre, Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic stormed into Moscow in late May 1969. Herbie had already been there twice before with La Scala and the Vienna Philharmonic; astride his usual steed, a triumph ensued in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Outside, a Soviet version of Beatlemania was erupting to the disquiet of the constabulary.

This is the first of a trio of concerts that occurred over three successive nights. Galvanised by history, the Berlin Philharmonic - no mean orchestra at the time - blazes away in the Fifth with an incandescence that is simply stunning. This performance - nay, eruption - is so much more intense than Karajan's performances in '63, '77 and '84 as to consign them to oblivion. I can't see myself listening to the Kleiber henceforth. And the Furtwangler '43 may not be on the iPod for much longer - that's a measure of the newcomer's stature. Samson-like, it has brought down the roof of my pantheon.

The Allegro con Brio is HAIR RAISING - and that's coming from a guy who's as bald as a bandicoot; and I urge you not to play it in the car as you drive. The slow movement in particular is beyond praise - it cannot have been any more magnificent in Beethoven's head. The recapitulation that occurs at 5'33" is unsurpassably great. The timpani and woodwind are thrillingly captured - in fact, the prominence of the former sounds akin to a Furtwangler performance. Best of all, the violins are always `there' - even in the fff moments; this is a hallmark of a great orchestra. For once, Karajan's transition into the finale has a nebulosity that mirrors the Furtwangler account from `43. The Finale itself is probably the highlight of the performance - I would not be surprised in the least to hear that Soviet officials hosed down the Berliners once the last note had been played. If the conflagration that erupts at 2'43" to 3'29" fails to electrify you, check your pulse: you are dead.

The Coriolan Overture is a serious challenger to the wartime Furtwangler performance; I would not say that of Karajan's other accounts from 1965 and 1984. Its opening could be likened to a shotgun blast.

The Pastoral runs true to Karajan's longstanding conception of the work. The bizarro booklet (it was clearly a madcap Russian article that was translated leadenly) claims that Soviet critics decried the performance in the days that followed; this is understandable: it is a swift Pastoral with no repeats. For those who glean merit in Karajan's Sixth, it is a worthwhile recording that does not quite displace '77. It certainly has more heart to it than the live performance from May 1972 (Testament); the brook bubbles along fulgently.

A word on the sound: it is stereo albeit somewhat`centralised' in the spectrum. Once one acclimatises to Melodyia's aural footprint, it is very listenable - insofar as one focuses on such mundanities. The runic incantations of the double basses in the Pastoral are vividly captured.

Reader, this is an honest review. Superlatives are warranted but they all fall short. If you hear this Fifth and the Coriolan Overture, you'll join the chorus.

This is it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't mention the war., 11 April 2014
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This review is from: Beethoven Symphony Nos 5 & 6 (Karajan in Moscow Vol.1) (Audio CD)
Karajan made a speech to the audience before this concert. He said, "Listen you measly commie scumbags; so the Panzer divisions never reached Moscow, but if they had this is what it would have felt like."
Da Da Da Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaa dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadaddadadadadaddadadadadadadadadadadaddadada!
And at the end all the audience were dead.
This is simply blistering stuff, and neither are the pathos or the lyricism underplayed.
The recording sounds like a bag of bones - but it really really doesn't matter.
Anyone who seriously thinks that Beethoven should be played by period instrument numpties, should be locked in a barn with this recording and forced to eat hay until they weep and repent.
It wouldn't take long.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shock and flaw, 21 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Beethoven Symphony Nos 5 & 6 (Karajan in Moscow Vol.1) (Audio CD)
I love all of Karajan’s other Beethoven 5s; the fiery urgency, the weight of tone, the heaven-shifting awesomeness, and yes, the spirituality, make most recorded performances seem mired in the earth. In this live performance though, he seems more concerned with showing the Moscow audience what he could wring out of the BPO in terms of savage virtuosic attack, rather than letting Beethoven’s undoubted humanity have it’s necessary say. The fast tempi and relentlessness gives the whole undertaking a mechanical quality devoid of emotion save those of anger and impetuousness; German ‘efficiency’ gone barmy. “Look on my creation and tremble, Muscovites; we are the masters now!” So was Karajan subliminally retaliating for the blockade of West Berlin just twenty years ago at the time, or for the total destruction of the city only four years before that? A daft notion of course. Or is it? Come what may, I am not impressed with Ks shock-and-awe tactics here. Karajan’s Sixth was always a bit fleet-of-foot, but here he’s even fleeter and frankly it’s played as though he’s got his eye on his Rolex, mindful of the early closing practices of Russian restaurants. Andre Previn and the LSO, on their first Moscow gig, famously got caught out in this way and went to bed hungry. Frankly these hyperactive performances bored me and I‘ve sold the disc on. Now, where’s that 1962 Five…
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Beethoven Symphony Nos 5 & 6 (Karajan in Moscow Vol.1)
Beethoven Symphony Nos 5 & 6 (Karajan in Moscow Vol.1) by Berliner Philharmoniker (Audio CD - 2009)
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