With the Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony resounds with melodic force, the Eighth is a masterful blend of grace and wit, and the Ninth - directed by Karajan himself - is a vital and explicitly dramatic reading of Beethoven's revolutionary work.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 was completed in 1812 and conducted its premier on December 8, 1813 in the University of Vienna. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 is widely viewed as a symphony of dance, where as, Wagner described it as “the apotheosis of the dance.” Its highly enjoyable, haunting 2nd movement was often most encored.
Karl Böhm's Beethoven is, on balance, the best complete cycle available from Deutsche Grammophon. This will come as a surprise to many, given the fact that the label relentlessly promotes performances by Herbert von Karajan (three complete cycles!) and Leonard Bernstein, but for quality of playing, as well as superb sound, these versions are just about unbeatable. And at a "twofer" price, the complete set on three pairs of discs is a terrific value. –David Hurwitz
This is one of the greatest recordings of the famous Ninth Symphony. It has long been overshadowed by Karajan's three recordings for the same label, as well as Bernstein's version with the same orchestra. But put them all on your CD player and compare, and this is the one you'll be coming back to. Böhm was the least glamorous of conductors, but he approaches the Ninth with messianic zeal and a fanatical gleam in his eye. The opening movement is a cataclysm, the sublime slow movement never loses its contemplative flow, and everyone involved simply sings and plays the pants off of the finale. If the final minute or two doesn't pull you right out of your seat, nothing will. Grab it while you can at this "twofer" price. It's a steal. –David Hurwitz
Karl Böhm's Vienna Philharmonic Beethoven cycle is Deutsche Grammophon's best kept secret. Not only is it the finest complete set of Beethoven symphonies in their catalog, it's also far and away the best recorded, and to make matters even more irresistible, it's also the least expensive (it's available on three "twofer" sets). These performances are typical: weighty, intense, powerful, and magnificently played. Listen especially to the (comparatively) neglected Fourth Symphony: if Böhm doesn't convince you that this is major Beethoven, then no one can.
Major documents from Rudolf Kempe's later years at the head of the Munich Philharmonic. Beethoven's Fifth, that masterpiece of emotional tension, and his Sixth, all vivid depiction of nature, are both readings of maturity and perfection.
It was as a supreme interpreter of the German Classical masterpieces, from Haydn to Richard Strauss, that concert audiences chiefly admired Otto Klemperer in the years between about 1951 and his retirement in 1972, the period to which most of his records belong. In Beethoven, particularly, he offered a granite-like orchestral sonority, and an objectivity in his balance of form and content, that contrasted refreshingly with the styles of such idolized conductors as Furtwangler, Bruno Walter, and even Toscanini. Under Klemperer the greatest Beethoven sounded more truthful and honest, and even more grand and inspiring.
"…This set deserves the most enthusiastic recommendation which words can muster. It has few rivals even in the top price range. (…) Zinman is Beethoven: I can pay him no greater compliment." ~musicweb-international