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on 1 April 2017
thoughtful account which never loses sight of the huge overall architecture. Has great sound and deserves its high reputation.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 13 May 2014
I have already eulogised the Karajan Bruckner Eighth Symphony, made with and by the same forces the previous November; it is possibly the greatest recording of the greatest symphony in my collection but this last collaboration between Das Wunder Karajan and the orchestra that kept faith with him once his relationship with the BPO had broken down irretrievably is of the same standard and deserves to stand alongside it as a valedictory triumph.

You straight away notice the immediacy of the recorded sound and how it brings out the famous warmth and glow of the VPO. I have the older issue which is impressive enough but the remastering for the Karajan Gold label is by all accounts even better. As long as it is not edgy, digital sound was made for the combination of Karajan, the VPO and Bruckner; this is a demonstration disc and by no means the performance of a sick old man, being somewhat more propulsive and relaxed than the two previous Karajan studio recordings of this symphony, midway between the speeds of the fastest 1975 version and the slowest in 1971 - yet the differences in all three timings is marginal and certainly not noticeable; the hallmark of all three of Karajan's interpretation of this symphony is the grandeur and sonority of the performance; nobody does the climax of the first movement like Karajan.

Is the extra warmth of this recording perhaps the result of the stiff-backed old man letting go just a little of his famous iron control and simply letting the orchestra play music they love in the way they best know how? There is certainly no slackness in the beat or loose ensemble but you get the sense of the VPO breathing as one giant organism under the benevolent eye of a man who knew he was in the process of adding to his own already monumental legacy. The horns and violas in the principal theme of the Adagio have never sounded more hieratic or numinous and when Karajan lets the orchestra fly at 12:57 it is hard to imagine anything more transcendently, aurally glorious. The ebb and flow of Karajan’s phrasing in the finale is scarcely the work of a tired conductor whose powers were fading; indeed it is almost sprightly and the climax of the whole symphony is simply marvellous in its majesty.

Like several previous reviewers, I am familiar with and greatly esteem the earlier recordings but for me this one has the edge in terms of beauty of sound.
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on 10 January 2015
This is an impressive recording of this popular work. It is Karajan's last ever recording, made with the VPO in early 1989 before his death later in the year. Following a break-up with the BPO towards the end of his career, he returned to his old, beloved orchestra, to make music together. It is as if they reconciled their earlier frictions before the conductor's departure to Berlin.

We are lucky to have this superlative recording. (His recording of Bruckner No.8 with the VPO, made about a half year earlier, is equally impressive.) The melodies are beautifully moulded and the tempi are completely natural (to my ear). The lyrical second movement, in particular, is lovingly played,

The orchestra's playing is beyond reproach. The homogeneous sound produced by this Bruckner specialist is simply marvellous. I have listened to many different versions in my time - Bohm (VPO), Karajan (BPO), Jochum, Haitink, Masur, Blomstedt, Suitner, Furtwangler, etc. But, the present disc is certainly at the top of my choice.

The recording is of demonstration quality. The sound is very clear and warm. I would recommend this disc unreservedly to lovers of Bruckner's music.
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on 21 November 2008
Karajan made an outstanding stereo recording of Bruckner's 7th with EMI, but this digital version, which turned out to be Karajan's swan-song, is even more impressive for its depth and sublimity. Overall reading is very similar to the live recording by Barenboim/BPO (Bruckner - Symphony No 7), another fine 7th. Personally I think Karajan's account is greater than the overrated Wand version (Bruckner: Symphony No.7 (BPO/Wand)). If you are after beautifully sculpted yet emotionally profound 7th, get both Karajan's digital recording and Barenboim's Live recording.
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on 18 December 2013
Typical Karajan, measured and powerful! Bought this because a friend had died and his instructions for his funeral asked that the second movement of this be played as the coffin was being brought into the Church! I knew some of the Bruckner symphonies, but not this one! Really love it now though!
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on 18 January 2007
This is the recording that turned me, irrevocably, onto Bruckner. Certainly the benchmark, all others being of curiosity value, so as to hear other methods and the inevitable pitfalls. Gloriously played, sublimely humane, even more vital to your collection than the much-praised Vienna Eighth. Karajan's final recording: a perfect ending. Look no further, seriously.

Update 2013: well, today I might qualify the "all others being of curiosity value", but the truth as I understand it remains that this is the greatest Bruckner 7th on record and one of Karajan's essential recordings. The fervour of the performance is unarguable.

Update 2014: the marvel of this performance, the last recording made by HvK, the shackles off, is how he and the VPo manage to get every facet of Bruckner's genius into the sound: his humour, his rude country ways, his devotion, the apprehension of beauty and of the sublime, his love and grief at the death of his idol, Richard Wagner. Most conductors aim for one or other, monumentality or the gluten-free option, the high altar or the dance of the merry peasants. Too bad, we live in the years of mediocrity, so cherish the great recordings whilst there's time.
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on 15 August 2015
The performance is wonderful, as is generally always the case when Karajan and Bruckner meet, but the 'original image bit processing' here has to be named and shamed.

It simply must.

I say this because it's appalling. Take a look at the waveform of, say, the first movement in Audacity and you'll see what I mean. The peaks are smashed to ruins. Bruckner wrote music that was designed to reach to the heavens, but not to crash into them as is, catastrophically, the case here.

I've noticed that many of Deutsche Grammophon's OIBP reissues suffer from an element of this (it's obvious that they're often not remastered with any real love or care), but this is the worst I've seen - far, far worse than the Bruckner Masses (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bruckner-Masses-Nos-1-3-Originals/dp/B000001GQ6) that many Amazon reviewers have complained about.

The unreliable quality control that Deutsche Grammophon/Universal exhibit is only matched by their policy of making it about as clear as mud what has been remastered and what hasn't.
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on 1 December 2017
One Bit 'improvement' does not suit my NAIM system - violins and flute were strident. A shame, because von Karajan's timing was superb.
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on 28 March 2015
Simply wonderful. But buy the 1995 remaster if you can find it. Still looking !
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on 4 February 2016
Still the benchmark in my view. In fact, I already had this on my ipod. I lost the original CD and ordered another for posterity - never delivered (though this was Royal Mail's fault). Even so, it gets 5 stars
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