In Ode XXX.3, Horace rightly declares that he has constructed a literary monument that is more durable than bronze. If pressed, Karajan could say the same of his 1963 Beethoven cycle whose only weaknesses are an unsettled Sixth and a recessed choir in the Ninth Symphony. Other than that, even for those who cut their teeth Beethoven-wise on the Seventies cycle, these are stones that reside imperiously in Stonehenge where they illuminate the solstice and equinox to the joy of beholders. Exception must be made for Pharisees who decry the fact that Herbie – god forbid – made errors of judgement over the course of life and wore a Shirt of Nessus in consequence to the end of days. Rectitude is theirs as they fling pebbles at the monument. Tally ho and give my regards to the landfill!
Whereas DG went on to remaster these recordings to infinity and beyond with the imprimatur of Buzz Lightyear, this 20-bit job from 1997, with the masterful essay from HC Robbins Landon, has served me well over time and I see no need to discard it. A DG recording of this vintage, grounded in the acoustics of the Jesus Christus church, can only be refined so much.
Whatever comes your way in life, this is talisman, these are icons. Light your way they will.