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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 March 2003
Having heard the 7th more than one hundred times in my 50 + years and nearly always been blown away by the last movement the
Klieber Beethoven 7 on the radio and was a revelation and I had to get the CD without delay. The clarity of the Vienna Philharmonic playing, the musical line, the sense of architecture ........... lost for words.
I am an avid fan of Arturo Toscanini but Carlos Kleiber in the Fifth and the Seventh makes the Maestro seem half asleep.
Of course the DG 1975 recording quality far out strips the best of Toscanini and is superb.
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on 11 May 2004
No point saying much about the performances, - they've been classics of the gramophone for 28-29 years now and deservedly so. Like other reviewers, I’ve loved them in all their incarnations. This one seems to me the best yet. No, the sound may not be as good as some new DSD recordings but its a darned sight better than most. I was sceptical about the surround version but needn't have worried, - it does add noticeable depth and solidity to what was always an impressive recording. I'd still want to have alternative readings for when Kleiber is just too driven for me (and the Pentatone RQR Davis disc is certainly one of those!) but for sheer excitement in these two works, and now for even better sound, Kleiber can't be beat. And isn't it nice to hear DG get something right for a change?!
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on 19 September 2003
The Fifth! Ah, the fifth! In the musical world, no one doubts whom you mean. Beethoven’s majestic symphony is the most overplayed, over recorded and hackneyed piece of work in the world. Then something like this comes along and we’re back in the original furnace of its creation. Kleiber and his band (and lets not underestimate their achievement) give us a first movement of fearful power & terror. That opening motif sheds it familiarity and hits us as if for the first time. After getting the solar plexus to settle after the first movement, we’re then in the realms of steady resignation, a relentlessness that never relies on volume or speed and then on to an ethereal 3rd movement that seems to encompass all spiritual sadness to an almost unbearable point.
And then …! Here we have the most glorious transition between movements in all the history of music. The seamless growth from breathless quiet to the explosive joy of the 4th movement can never fail to make the arms rise in triumph. Beethoven saying Bollocks to fate and taking his own life back with a fierce exhilaration that makes one want to shout with him. Kleiber & the Vienna miraculously achieve this with a transparency of sound and unity that comes along in recorded music once in a lifetime. The engineering is equal to the artistry (blindfold, most people would still think it’s a new recording). If you really haven’t heard this version, go out now and buy it. Turn it up on the Hi-Fi and come away a changed person.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 October 2007
This has just been chosen on BBC 3's CD Review as the 'best' version of the 5th. Symphony, just pipping the 1955 mono Klemperer ; and I believe it was chosen also the last time CD Review tackled the many versions of this work. It made waves when it first came out on LP and has always been popular, combining as it does great fire and intensity with a good sense of structure and some beautifully lyrical phrasing and playing. Much the same virtues are evident in the 7th. Symphony, and together on one CD they really are irresistible. There can never be one definitive version of either of these incomparable works, and many, many performances on CD have something valid to tell us, but these two interpretations have more than most.
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VINE VOICEon 1 January 2008
Nothing much to add to the above. I've known this recording since it came out on vinyl nearly 30 years ago. There isn't a better version of the 7th anywhere; I like the 1954 Columbia by Karajan, but this is in a different league. The 5th is also excellent, but you might look at the Clutyens. Buy it anyway, it's a no-brainer.
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on 12 November 2003
From the first three notes you know this is going to be good.
The opening 'fate' motif grabbing you instantly, you are transported into an unsurpassed sound world. The famous transition from the 3rd to 4th movements is the most life affirming thing, and in this recording you are carried along with such power, even though tempi are not the quickest, Kleiber and the mighty Wiener Philharmoker manages to knock you for six. To be honest i cant really put it into words - every word i think sounds hollow and meaningless compared to this recording. And then the 7th, oh what joy. The splitting of the violins in the last movement...heaven.
Its the most important piece of music in the history of Western Civilisation, everyone should buy this CD.
Stop reading this just buy it!
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on 19 September 2001
I have both these recordings on vinyl i.e. the originals, bought in the 1970s. The 5th certainly justifies the rave reviews, electrifying and all that, but of course it is one approach - Bohm's on DG is another equally valid. However, my main point is re. the 7th which to my mind is a very average recording, notably the second movement where Kleiber's tempo is too fast and the woodwind passages are stripped entirely of their dramatic content. Far better his father's classic recording on Decca Eclipse, which I also have.
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on 5 December 1999
This is one of the greatest recordings of all time. This CD presents Beethoven in a thrilling, dynamic and transcendent manner. From the famous opening motif one knows that this is not another perfunctory reading of one of Beeethoven's masterpieces. The whole record is beautifully balanced and rhythmical. Don't be put off by the mid price. Buy and enjoy years of life-affirming music. Why,oh why, has Kleiber released so few records?
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on 8 December 2013
Blu Ray Pure Audio is the best sound production of the source material I have heard. These comments apply to the entire first batch of classical discs issued so far by Universal Pure Audio. In addition to Kleiber's Beethoven, I have heard Karajan's Beethoven 9 and Mahler 5, and Fricsay's Dvorak 9. These are all great performances, and they have never sounded better. It would be pity if Universal did not expand this project. I read somewhere that future issues would include Bohm's Bruckner 4, Colin Davis' Symphonie Fantastique (with the Concertgebuow) , and more Beethoven from Karajan. I would urge readers of these comments to experience one of these discs to form their own opinion about how good they sound. It is my dream that the industry will transition all its major classical recordings to this format.
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This for me remains one of the most essential of Beethoven recordings for all the acclaimed reasons that are cited and they still grip with their intensity as they did when I first bought the separate LPs. Some dissenting voices believe these readings are over hyped and the truth is if you don't like them then you simply do without them and you find satisfaction in other approaches. However, with some 20 or so versions each of these symphonies on my shelves, taking in very different great interpretations that offer fascinating illuminating perspectives on these masterpieces, I do not find these readings to be overrated in the least. There is a reason why these readings have stood the test of time and it is nothing at all to do with sales marketing or overly enthusiastic professional music critics over the decades.

The intensity and beauty of these visionary, exciting, interpretations and the virtuosity of the VPO make this a special disc and their main strength for me lies in their fiery dynamism. This is Beethoven playing at white heat. At more detailed level there are many imaginative phrasing details and, as an example, I am always struck by the closing plucked string phrasing at the close of the seventh's slow movement in this performance. The sound is still very good for these blazing performances. My only extremely minor quibble is that I would have welcomed a touch of more warmly recorded engineering to make this disc absolutely perfect. I echo the favourable reviews; this will prove to be essential Beethoven listening for many music lovers who as yet have to still to discover these vital recordings.
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