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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ode to the Joy
Yes, the pundits were right: This is the Ninth to end all Ninths. I have yet to hear a finer version; not even from Karajan himself, who made three stereo versions of this great swan song of a symphony. The Deutsche Grammophon rather curiously chose the 1962 production for their 'Originals' (or Legendary Recordings) series, but it is less serene and sometimes haste, and...
Published on 4 Feb 2003 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Most exciting 9th ever? I really don't think so...
Far from being the most exciting 9th ever as one reviewer suggests it isn't even Karajan's best Beethoven 9! The finale is impressive but the early movements are pretty prosaic and in poor, boxy sound. Karajan's 1963 recording (ie fourteen years earlier) has much better, warmer sound and a more energetic performance up until the finale which sounds like it was recorded...
Published 1 month ago by Dr. M. Rologas


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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ode to the Joy, 4 Feb 2003
Yes, the pundits were right: This is the Ninth to end all Ninths. I have yet to hear a finer version; not even from Karajan himself, who made three stereo versions of this great swan song of a symphony. The Deutsche Grammophon rather curiously chose the 1962 production for their 'Originals' (or Legendary Recordings) series, but it is less serene and sometimes haste, and the intended epitaph of 1982 is somewhat marred by the rashness of the early digital sound and the thin, flawed singing of the soprano.
No such quibbles with the analogue 1977 version here; the fruition of Karajan's long-standing partnership with the Berlin Philharmonics and the Wiener Singverein chorus. Beethoven does not waste a beat in his arguably finest symphony, and nor does his great champion Karajan, as becomes evident from the very first boom of the timpani. The slow movement is one of extraordinary serene beauty and lyricism; it takes a whopping 16'50 to perform, but escapes all sentimentality through the sheer expansiveness of its shape. The celebrated finale has thrilling animal excitement and drama; it is taken very fast but never sounds rushed - a great testimony to the skills of the Berlin forces and their perfectionist maestro. Here, 'nobility' is the keyword throughout the performance.
The all-important soloists make possibly the greatest team Karajan ever managed to muster. They are also very good individually with, perhaps, the youthful bass-baritone José van Dam outstanding. But fine contributions all around, and the same applies to the cultivated singing of the Vienna chorus.
Unfortunately the liner notes do not offer any suggestions as to the whereabouts of the recording. An educated guess would point to the ambient Jesu Christe Kirche of Berlin, for the digitally remastered sound has plenty of boom and body. Yet it is simultaneously attentive to detail and clear in the treble. There may not be the extreme dynamism of the more recent recordings, but whether this is a loss at all is clearly a matter of taste.
As an aside, a copy of this specific 1977 Ninth is on display in a glass cabinet at my employer's (The Public Broadcasting Corporation of Finland) as a representative of the vinyl era. A fitting choice indeed; this is a Desert Island disc if there ever was one. (Do try to hear Furtwaengler's hallowed 1951 account. Even if you are content with the rather boxy mono sound, don't let it stop you from sampling - and obtaining - the Karajan as well.)
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven's 9th, the most exciting one., 28 April 2011
By 
H. M. Tobe (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As everybody knows or should know, this is one of the greatest and most exciting pieces of music ever composed. This edition is even more exciting than the others because of a slight difference concerning the rythm in de finale.
Otherwise this performance is one of the best as well. Director, orchestra, choir and soloists are really very good. And that at bargain price!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious Ninth - Possibly Karajan's Best, 20 Mar 2012
This recording of the Ninth is widely celebrated and sometimes ranked as the best version Karajan offered (the Penguin, for example). I haven't heard all of his recordings of this symphony, but would agree that, in comparison with his 1963 version, this is much better. I also agree that it is one of the great Ninths. Karajan is never just routine in this recording, he always surprises you with great lush playing alternating with fast and biting tempos. The finale is particularly impressive: the playing is just tremendous. The lovely passages at the end of the third movement are hauntingly beautiful and the first two movements are exciting, whilst not sacrificing genuine feeling. This is all capped off by a very successful quartet of soloists. Jose van Dam really deserves highest praise and he never sounds strained. This part isn't easy to pull off, so he's work is notably impressive. Tomowa-Sintow is completely different to Janowitz, but sounds just as good. Baltsa has that distinctive voice to offer and Schreier's performance is satisfactory but nothing more. Overall, it ranks third for me in the list of Beethoven Ninth recordings: the Furtwangler 1951 performance at Bayreuth and Solti's 1972 version reach Olympian heights. But that doesn't take away from Karajan's achievement here, which definitely deserves five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Most exciting 9th ever? I really don't think so..., 30 Sep 2014
By 
Dr. M. Rologas (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Far from being the most exciting 9th ever as one reviewer suggests it isn't even Karajan's best Beethoven 9! The finale is impressive but the early movements are pretty prosaic and in poor, boxy sound. Karajan's 1963 recording (ie fourteen years earlier) has much better, warmer sound and a more energetic performance up until the finale which sounds like it was recorded in a completely different acoustic (and perhaps it was?). If you're looking for a Beethoven 9 from Karajan the recording to go for is his electrifying 1948 EMI performance with an unbeatable cast of soloists and surprisingly good sound (for 1948).
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is a lovely recording of a beautiful piece of well known classical music and I am ..., 11 July 2014
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This CD is an identical replacement for one that I lost some time ago. It is a lovely recording of a beautiful piece of well known classical music and I am really pleased to have it back.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Smyphony No 9, 20 July 2013
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Absolutely out of this world. Enjoyed immensely although I was already familiar with the Symphony I was very happy with the sound quality and service from company.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent purchase, 22 Mar 2013
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This was a replacement for a damaged CD that I already had but the price was much less tha I paid originaly ,so VG.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not my favourite 9th, 28 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This record leaves something to be desired. Do not assume it to be definitive. Sound is acceptable but recessed. Soloists are very good but the performance lacks excitement and warmth. I would describe it as sterile. I can think of a number of others such as Furtwangler/Philharmonia on Tahra or Szell/Cleveland on Sony which are different from each other interpretatively but have the ingredients missing from the Karajan. I wish to avoid rubbising Karajan as he made many great records (many of which I own) but I find his Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann etc not to my taste (in general)- much better in Strauss, Debussy, Respighi, Mahler, Liszt etc. where the technical excellence of the playing is more crucial and his beautiful sounds show the music to its greatest advantage.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it should be, 22 Sep 2012
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Bought this based on other reviews but as soon as I played it I recognised it as one that I had some 20 years back as part of a CD set of all Beethoven's Symphonies which I threw away. I bought it then on the advent of CD's and found the recording very 'thin' (and too fast which is a personal thing! - the main problem is with the lack of fullness that Beethovens Symphonic works need in spades especially the 9th. Suggest you look and listen elsewhere!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting and inspirational., 22 Nov 2012
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This was my father's favourite Symphony and I play it every anniversary of his passing to celebrate universal joy. I've been playing an old cassette, but the cd is so much better and I'm glad I finally decided to buy it.
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Beethoven: Symphony No.9
Beethoven: Symphony No.9 by Agnes Baltsa and Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan and José van Dam and Peter Schreier and Wiener Singverein
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