Aside from featuring a superb performance of Beethoven's (and arguably music's) greatest symphony, this DVD also delivers an exciting and unintrusive visual experience thanks to the thoughtful direction of Sir Humphrey Burton. Unlike later video productions of the BPO that were directed by Karajan himself, this one does not attempt any fancy video effects or spend too much time focusing on the conductor. Instead the camera seems to instinctively know what we want to see, whether it is a particular instrumental or vocal soloist, the entire orchestra tearing into a climax, or the moment in the fourth movement when the chorus finally stands up after being seated for over an hour.
Since I grew up admiring Karajan's work and particularly have enjoyed his recordings from the 60's and 70's, this production provided a fantastic opportunity for me to watch him conduct a live concert when he was at the height of his fame. Remarkably, he stands before the orchestra with no podium and no score, and shows an economy of gesture that is perhaps the direct opposite of the more demonstrative style of his contemporary Leonard Bernstein.
Video and sound quality are both excellent, especially considering their 1970's vintage.