The performance is impeccable and the recording quality excellent, worthy of the DG label. Although a live recording, there is no extraneous noise or bad notes. My only small reservation is that the performance is perhaps almost too perfectly polished. For example, near the end of the finale, the strings are so smooth that they don't quite have the emotionally searing effect achieved in the studio recording that Karajan made 2 years earlier with the BPO (available on CD Mahler: Symphony 9, Kindertotelieder, Ruckert Lieder). However, the performance is spiritually satisfying and lends itself to reflection on the joys, tragedies and meaning of life as experienced by Mahler.
In my view this is the best all-round CD currently available of Mahler's 9th (and I have quite a few in my collection), particularly if you are looking for a reference performance with no quirks, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Along with the Bruckner VPO recordings,this must be Karajan's high water mark.Moving,beautifully paced,playing and recording of extreme beauty and passion.Bernstein,Haitink,Tennstedt,all have much to say in this,one of the greatest of all symphonies,but this may just head the list.It's become the norm to criticise HVK these days,and perhaps based on Mozart and Haydn,a little coolness may be expected,but he could be as great as his reputation,as he demonstrates here marvellously.One for the ages,if you don't own this,rectify your omission now.This is one you'll treasure.
There have been many fine Ninths from the world's super orchestras. Recent recordings from Abbado and Rattle in Berlin received acclaim and let's not forget the 1979 Bernstein recording - his only time with the Berliners.
Karajan's live recording is quite unique within his discography. barely two years on from the award-winning studio recording, he sanctions the release of this stupendous, devastatingly emotional performance captured at the Berlin Festival. As is well known, it is breathtaking in its playing and in its conducting. The sound is excellent and the current Gramophone Award Winners issue is very affordable. If you're ready to tackle the Ninth, you couldn't do better. Karajan really locks onto the philosophical victory being dramatized here.
Amongst the very greatest recordings by this prolific team, just how much so was brought home to me again recently while listening to the eloquent but comparatively safe Haitink/RCO version.
Karajan's live version of the 9th is more powerful and profound than his earlier stereo recording and it matches Bernstein's outrageously explosive live recording on DG in depth and profundity. Karajan really knows how to achieve maximum emotional intensity and richness of Mahler's orchestration and to capture the sublimity of this amazing music.
If you are after super-profound performance of 9th, I can not recommend this one more alonside Giulini, Maderna, Bertini, Svetlanov and Horenstein's powerfully moving performances not to forget James Levine's amazing account on RCA.