Customer Review

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An artistic triumph, 21 July 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven: 9 Symphonies, Overtures (Audio CD)
Although this cycle suffers from a very odd sound balance, what emerges unscathed is the artistic integrity of the BPO and von Karajan in this exciting, entertaining set. Every performance keeps me hooked from start to finish, which is something that can't be said for many Beethoven cycles blessed with much better sound. I realise that not everyone will be able to tolerate the balance and that maybe the performances would be even more engaging if they could be heard more clearly, so, given that the review should be for the product as a whole, I have withheld the fifth star. Nevertheless, this is one of my favourite Beethoven cycles.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Mar 2015 21:17:50 GMT
david says:
Hi Ian,
Could you elucidate the balance issue, I find the stereo good, but the strings too forward and the wind desk recessed. Also the brass not punchy enough. I am not sure whether this set is as hard driven as the 1960s set and you can't really compare those two. But on the other hand I think a comparison between this 1980s digital set with the 1970s analogue set is valid and very interesting: colliding sound worlds as it were. The irritating thing is that all the sets have many good points so it's easy to just get thd three cycles - and then the REST - and endlessly sample them. Your detailed views about the balance would inform my own listening Regards.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2015 01:30:01 GMT
Ian E. says:
Hi David,
First off, I confess to using the term "balance" as a catch-all for "this set has sound problems". Having got that out of the way, I would say that my biggest bugbear is that when only a few instruments are playing the sound is clear and beautiful but when the whole orchestra is playing ensemble and forte they just drown each other out. I've heard it suggested that the reason that the strings swamp the rest of the orchestra in early DG digital recordings is that HvK, by then in his eighties and likely to be less able to hear the higher frequencies, still insisted on having the final say on the sound of the released product, though it might just be that CDs can't cope with the dynamic range that was present on early digital LPs. I have never owned the 1960s set so I can't comment on that; I did (and probably still do) have the 1970s set on vinyl, and quite enjoyed it, but it never managed to take the place of the Bohm set from the same decade. Regards, Ian.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2015 09:55:07 GMT
david says:
Thank you Ian for responding because you have described certain sound problems which I certainly also recognise in this recording and some others. Your description and explanations are spot on. I think it also maybe the latter reason you give, as there is definitely a wall of sound effect going n there. On other recordings especially in the analogue age, during the loudest passages especially with the strings playing away, there is usually a marked audible step down or compression which acts as a sort of safety level to stop the problem of congestion. To my mind it is another form of distortion. Nonetheless this one is still a great set. The digital Haitink/Concertgebouw on Philips is much better in terms of sound and almost as exciting. Thanks for your comments as it helps to appreciate the music better Cheers David
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