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.
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.
Herbert von Karajan directs the Berlin Philharmonic in an Italianate take of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and an assured rendering of the Fifth, while the "Pastoral" Symphony, conceived and derected by Hugo Niebeling in 1967, is a revolutionary mix of styles - Fantasia meets Expressionism meets film noir.
With the Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan, Beethoven's First Symphony is marked by its fire and finesse, the Second by its exquisite winds and strings, and the "Eroica" is played with members of the orchestra seated as though performing in an Ancient Greek theatre.
"There is no single body of work in the universe of orchestral music that is in any way comparable to this one" (Leonard Bernstein on the Beethoven Symphonies). "He has a way of reminding you what the music can do: no one else today can make the great C major eruption in the Marcia funebre of No.3 blaze like this." - Gramophone
"Symphony No.2 gets a performance of tremendous power and energy … The Vienna Seventh never lets us forget the Bacchanalian symbolism of a work its creator claimed would make mankind spiritually drunken! Bernstein makes it so." - ClassicsToday.com
"The poised polished execution of the Vienna Philharmonic, and … the controlled, tasteful vigour of Bernstein's conducting sets standards of Beethoven playing that recall Toscanini's heyday with the New York Philharmonic." - Fanfare
"…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
The sound and picture on these DVDs are excellent; the sound is truly comparable to a well-recorded CD. The soundtrack is available both in stereo and also an excellent 5.1 Dolby mix. The disks have a set of program notes and a biography of von Karajan.