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on 21 July 2013
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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on 13 December 2014
The three stars are because, although these are pretty good performances, they don't add anything to the Karajan legacy. Apart from a tremendous Eroica, all the works are found in better performances by Karajan in his 63 and 77 cycles. The sound too, although digital, is nothing special. This set is really surplus to requirements.
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on 18 April 2015
People coming to this set without the baggage of knowing about the Karajan debate or the comparative merits of his various Beethoven cycles , would probably find it highly satisfactory . I payed under five pounds and not surprisingly I was absolutely delighted . The recorded sound is good and the playing is fantastic . In the one I bought some of the foam inlays had started to disintegrate and this may have been the reason for the very low price .
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on 16 March 2012
For me simply the best.

I understand these are later Karajan recordings and they go at a pace that for me makes the whole thing exciting all the way through.

Never a dull moment.

Highly recommended.

Signed: A Listener of Classics.
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on 17 November 2014
The merits of Karajan’s last Beethoven cycle will be debated until Hell turns Methodist. DV_Forever’s review (on is ex cathedra. Given Herbie’s choice of footware, his use of the word ‘stomp’ is apt – this endeavour has a longevity that has been denied to the likes of Abbado in Berlin (he’s less vapid with the Vienna Philharmonic) Rattle and Chailly (among many others). Needless to say, the Klang of the Berliners is evident in every bar and blessedly so. Here are thoughts of my own.

This cycle was recorded at the height of the internecine war between Karajan and the orchestra; most of the bloodletting occurred in 1983. For years, I wrongly thought that the DG recordings were synonymous with the Sony performances on video. They’re not. The bum-steer came from the Telemondial logo. For instance, the Sony Fourth was recorded a year earlier (1982) than its DG counterpart; it’s a sunnier affair. On the other hand, DG trumps Sony in the Eighth. In the latter, Herbie looks haggard as if expecting a Panzerfaust to come his way from the brass. A different bass is used in the Ninths.

A key question is this: what’s the fourth best performance in this cycle, as the Eroica, Eighth and Overtures tower over the rest. An answer is elusive. It’s certainly not the Pastoral. Karajan’s best Sixth comes from his ’77 cycle where for once he luxuriates in its divinity. Here, impatience is evident in the first paragraph. Slurry-like articulation mars the Fourth (scherzo), Fifth and the Seventh – they resemble a Ferrari that is being driven with no love in evidence (even if the close of the first movement of the Fourth is stupendous). While the soloists in the Ninth are ordinary and the advent of the ‘Ode to Joy’ is prosaic, the Berlin Phil - in crush, kill, destroy mode - vents its wider frustrations in the first movement: it’s an overwhelming experience. Constellations are evoked in the Adagio. Flawed though it be, I nominate the Ninth. At its best, it’s a world-beater.

This cycle has been reworked in Karajan 1980s (limited Edition). Nevertheless, much of the heavy lifting was done in 1993 in this 20-bit remastering. It can also be purchased with Beethoven [13 CD Box Set] with Weissenberg’s unheroic survey of the concertos in train.

How much of this endeavour is Beethoven-centric? Is nemesis in play? Could it be lampooned as pyramid-building? Make up your own mind!
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on 28 January 2016
While the overall sound quality in early digital may sound undernourished compared with the well sprung bouncy "Radio 2" sound of the 1977 set, and given the all too ups and downs of Karajan's interpretation, this is nonetheless well recorded.

I must differ from another review about "peculiar balance" - I find the pin point accuracy of the soundstage the best thing about this set. Listening to the second movement of the First Symphony through my just refurbished AR 162 SPIRIT speakers which probably add to the imaging of the different instruments and orchestral sections, being lively forward creatures themselves, I find the last movement also takes off in a very satisfying way.

Another consideration - for those sweet new little ears out there, who know nothing but digitally recorded music....there's the totally dead silence in quiet passages which make this ideal for ripping to headphones and the Walkman. (shows you where I am coming from)

Silence? I find this singularly annoying and distracting, apart from its artificiality.

On with the speaker test, now for that 1950s Mantovani/Katchen Rhapsody in Blue on Orange DECCA vinyl. In-between the odd click and pop you can hear "deep" real silence with the music!

So to get back! This Karajan is very good, but I still prefer the analog sets...and if you can get them in vinyl that's even better!

What am I saying? You can get them repressed and reissued brand new on 180gm...or there are plenty of excellent minty second hand sets on Ebay which, being original, are even better.
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on 17 November 2014
What all the fuss and all the negative comments about the complete symphonies of Beethoven by Karajan and downgrading it by comparing with 50,60'70 box sets.I have listened all the box and enjoy his final thoughts on Beethoven symphonies.I took this box set on holiday to Turkey and really enjoy and it is the best,excellent sound in rich and broad sound as if you are at Festival Hall.Listen to Symphony 3 or 5 and complete with his previous interpretation and you will be bowled with richness of the sound and I can not read music and try to ignore the critic because they to look for fault with the magnifying glass. On occasion one musician complain there is a fly walking across my score,he said play that to.Karajan admire the alpine horn and a bassoonist give a boring long talk about the instrument and told that a school teaching how to play it properly and he said I hope they establish a school teaching how to play the bassoon.This box is highly recommended and if you can buy Karajan 1980 box set.Any one open mind and not being a critic will enjoy it but not the critic who will find mistake in my review.Please read what I wrote not the it should be written as the rain in Spain does not only fall on the plain and we all speak the Queen English with a cockney accent expect the critic.
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on 28 July 2016
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on 1 January 2015
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