Karajan: Beethoven Symphonies 1-9 (1963) Remastered [Deluxe Limited Edition-5 CDs + 1 Blu-Ray Audio] Limited Edition, Box set
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. . . this 1963 set remains the most highly rated, and with reason. Lustrous Berlin Phil playing, plus Karajan's visionary grandeur. Record Review / Classic FM (London) / 2013
An ultramodern 24 bit / 96 kHz remastering of this iconic set delivered ‘twice complete’ – once across 5CDs, and once on a single Blu-ray Audio, all in a unique luxury packaging.The edition includes:
Top Customer Reviews
UPDATE on 22 Nov 2014: I have now done file, waveform and spectral analysis on one whole movement from each of the nine symphonies comparing up to four CD release versions. Details and URLs of screenshots of some results are posted in the comments section (two reduced sized images are now included below, a new feature to upload photos; for large images see the comments section). The results largely corroborate with my earlier listening impressions. Most importantly, the sampled files from the CDs from this new Blu-ray/CD set have IDENTICAL NUMBER OF BYTES AND RUNTIME down to 0.001s from those of the hybrid SACD CD layers and THEIR WAVEFORMS ARE IDENTICAL. File comparisons between these two versions show FIVE OUT OF NINE SAMPLED MOVEMENTS ARE BIT-FOR-BIT IDENTICAL. Spectrograms reveal FREQUENCIES ARE LIMITED TO 12kHz only at -70dB, well below human hearing and CD sample rate limits. I am now 99% certain that the new version is really using the same 24-bit/96kHz digital master as the 2003 SACD set with no further remastering in the majority of the symphonies and perhaps a minuscule amount in the rest.
THE ORIGINAL REVIEW
This long review rather than covering old territories like Karajan, his legacy or the HD audio vs. CD debate instead offers something more original and tries to get to the truth behind the new remaster, based on real listening tests comparing three formats and versions (CD, SACD, Blu-ray) simultaneously and other evidence. The more I look the more suspicious it gets. This release never claims to be a new analogue to digital transfer. The review also outlines some trade-offs of listening to Pure Audio Blu-ray compared to CD and SACD.Read more ›
1: The driving forward momentum and pulse
2: The fine playing of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
3: The driven energy that both that the conductor and orchestra give to the Beethoven Symphonies
4: Swift speeds judged to perfection played with no repeats.
What i didn't like:
5: The only thing that bugged me about the 1999 release was the distant and underwhelmed state of the recordings when compared to newer more modern recordings from the last decade.
With the release of this 2014 new re-masters point 5 will now read:
5. The new remaster has brought these fine 1963 recordings up to date and rival all competitors. As a overall set, this set of Beethoven Symphonies played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan is a clear first choice. Hidden detail from previous releases of this set is now revealed in this new re-master with fine spread of audio and separation of orchestral detail together with tangible real sense of power and depth to the recordings not previously revealed.
What you get with this set is perfection, illumination, detail, humanity, driven, energetic, energy, enthusiasm and beauty. What you might miss is some quirkiness or humour that other sets might reveal, but what you won't get is the pulsating energy that this set brings and a clean straight performance. Recommended.
To show off their new Blu-Ray technology, Deutsche Grammophon had the choice of three different Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic cycles of the Beethoven Symphonies.
Surprisingly, they went with the earliest one - recorded in 1962, ignoring his new and improved versions from 1977 and 1984.
The 1962 Beethoven cycle was recorded in the Jesus-Christus Kirche, the site for all Karajan recordings, 1959-1974.
From 1974, Karajan insisted on recording in the Philharmonie, the orchestra's new concert hall, with a clearer but drier sound.
After the move to the the Philharmonie, lower strings still recorded well,
but the violins lost some of their accustomed sweetness.
(not helped by the aging Karajan's insistence on final approval - as we age we don't hear highs as clearly as before).
After his death, these recordings were remastered - rebalancing the treble
(the "Karajan Gold" series).
They now actually sound pretty good - but still second best.
Apart from the warmer sound of the 1962 Beethoven cycle, the performances are remarkably similar, aside from a more urgent first movement in the 1977 Eroica.
Herbert von Karajan was famous for his love of racing cars,
but his Beethoven always struck me as more of a Mercedes-Benz limousine.
BIG AND MADE FOR COMFORT.
Very unfashionable in our historically correct time.
There are other big orchestra sets out there, but none are quite as luxurious as Karajan's 1962 Beethoven.
(it can also be quite exciting).
This is now Karajan's preferred Beethoven Cycle: Best Performance / Best Sound.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great music, but disc 2 (symphonies 3 & 4) is over 80 minutes long which is pushing it for CD, thus my CD player starts skipping at the end of the disc.Published 9 months ago by Stuart
I owned the vinyl set of these symphonies (still do) and remember being blown away by the recorded sound and the performances. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mr. R. D. Boyton
This is a review of the blu ray disc only Having had these recordings in my collection since the 1960,s - I have to say that these new transfers in HD audio do full justice to... Read morePublished 11 months ago by nbown
Karajan & The Berlin Phil at there best. A very good Digital re mastering.Published 14 months ago by in the sun
Superb collection. Needed to replace/add to my Karajan box set from way back (the foam insert had started to 'rot' and stuck to the CDs!).Published 14 months ago by G. J. Miles
A masterfully and lovingly created box set, which one could recommend to any lover of Beethoven's symphonies, and/or of Karajan who probably saw himself as standing shoulder to... Read morePublished 15 months ago by joe jackson