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SYMPHONY NO.7


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 19 2002)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00005UW3V
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #194,504 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No.7 in A major, op.92 - Karajan.
2. Symphony No.104 in D major “London” - Karajan.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 28 2003
Format: Audio CD
Although this isn't the best known of Karajan's 1950's and 1960's recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, it deserves inclusion as one of Decca's Legends. Karajan would record both Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Haydn's 104th Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic - the former no less than three times - yet I doubt I have heard his interpretations sound as fresh and as invigorating as these with the Weiner Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) recorded in one of the orchestra's concert halls. In both works Karajan opts for brisk tempi, coaxing richly warm, brilliant performances from the orchestra. As much as I enjoy this unexpected treasure, I hope that Decca will consider reissuing as part of his series his splendid recording of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" also recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic during this period. Fans of Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic will not be disappointed with this CD.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fine Beethoven, Haydn with Karajan and Vienna Philharmonic Dec 28 2003
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Although this isn't the best known of Karajan's 1950's and 1960's recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, it deserves inclusion as one of Decca's Legends. Karajan would record both Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Haydn's 104th Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic - the former no less than three times - yet I doubt I have heard his interpretations sound as fresh and as invigorating as these with the Weiner Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) recorded in one of the orchestra's concert halls. In both works Karajan opts for brisk tempi, coaxing richly warm, brilliant performances from the orchestra. As much as I enjoy this unexpected treasure, I hope that Decca will consider reissuing as part of his series his splendid recording of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" also recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic during this period. Fans of Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic will not be disappointed with this CD.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Beethoven Seventh is an overlooked Karajan treasure Aug. 24 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Perhaps the least known phase of Karajan's recording career comprises the handful of discs he made with the Vienna Phil. for Decca, mostly in the late Fifties. There's a great Richard Strauss collection and also, as Mr. Kwok notes, a world-class The Planets, among others. Here we have two long out-of-print recordings in vintage analog sound. The Beethoven Seventh straddles two other versions, the earlier in mono with the Philharmonia on EMI, the later in stereo with the Berlin Phil. on DG, part of Karajan's famous 1963 Beethoven ccyle.

This version has the freshness and direct expression of the Philharmonia recording, but in much better sound and played with incomparable stylishness by the VPO. While not as explosive as the Berlin reading -- this is one of Karajan's mellowest interpretations -- DG's engineers spoiled a great reading with edgy, blatty sound. Karajan's tempos are all traditional, yet he infuses inner life into them, unlike sober traditionalists like Bohm, Schuricht, and Knappertsbusch in their Sevenths. This for me was a must-listen since the Seventh was a Karajan specialty.

Not many critics nowadays favor Karajan's way with Haydn, which suffers from too large an orchestra playing in too sleek a style. There's nothing rustic or ebulient about it. Those flaws have kept me from admiring his other two readings of Sym. 104 with the Berlin Phil. on EMI and DG. Like them, this VPO reading is big, Beethoven-sized, but it has more grit to it and less suaveness. Even so, the star of the disc is definitely the Beethoven Seventh.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Haydn treated like an Olympian Jan. 20 2012
By dv_forever - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Since most reviews on this page focus on the Beethoven 7th, I wanted to speak about the Haydn 104th symphony. First a quick word on the Beethoven. If you don't like Karajan's approach to Beethoven and the 7th in particular, you might like this version because it's warmer and less tense than his Berlin 7th on DG. I very much prefer the 60s DG 7th over the other Karajan 7ths and the finale is one of the greatest of all time on that recording. But yes, Karajan's treatment of the allegretto can be considered cold for it's time. ( Nowadays conductors are much colder ). So if that's a problem, this Vienna 7th has a warmer allegretto than the subsequent DG remakes.

Onto Haydn... there is no conductor in the world who has the nerve to play Haydn this way in the 21st century. Most conductors today downsize the orchestra and undermine the grandeur of the music in every conceivable way. To me, these modern H.I.P.sters are a bunch of drones, frauds and copycats, scared of making a big statement. Karajan never had a problem making a big statement and this version of the 104th is Karajan's best. It's big, bold and still has inner gentleness where it counts. The Vienna Philharmonic are angelic and Olympian in turn. Decca's sound of that era was always some of the best around.

The cover photo is quite beautiful too. Karajan the narcissist, mentioned it as his favorite photo of himself. Those harps in the background do look like wings a bit. If you are wondering why there are harps in the photo when there are no harps in use during the Haydn and Beethoven on this CD, well it's because this photo originally graced a collection of Liszt symphonic poems.
Beethoven's Best Symphony Dec 26 2013
By shakes MKG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Not as popular as the 3rd and 9th but a very complex, beautiful and dynamic piece of music. Very well played version.
A surprising gem succeeding against all the expected odds Aug. 19 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc, well mastered from the original analogue recording of 1959, brings all the expected advantages of modern processing to bear on a disc that, on the face of it, would seem to be hopelessly out of sympathy with current musical thinking. Before going on to consider the performances, it is important to understand what has been achieved in this re-mastering and why it matters.

The mastering at 24 bits (dynamic range) and 96 kHz (frequency range) needs to be explained to be understood. Analogue recordings from the 1950's onwards had a wide dynamic and frequency range and certainly up to, and possibly beyond, the two above sets of figures. Early digital recordings were made on digital recorders with only 16 bits and 48 kHz of potential information. These figures clearly show the limitations of the recorded sound when comparing digital with analogue. Furthermore, the CD format was not capable of storing more information, unlike LPs or tape. All this explains why collectors using the top end of playback equipment were so often unhappy with digital sound. In summary this was simply a case of convenience over quality.

Nowadays it is possible to digitally record at these higher ranges and for discs, especially SACD, DVD and Blu-ray, to hold all the extra information. This is also why a remastering, such as we have here, from original wide ranging analogue tapes to modern wider ranged digital media, is so successful.

The result on this disc is the expected increased 'presence' with added dynamic and frequency response compared to the original CD releases. It is possible that by comparing original LP discs with these new CDs that the LP may still have the advantage, but that is not the real world for most purchasers.

Moving on to the performances, it is quite clear that this is big band orchestral playing that has little to do with period performances as heard from so many specialists and orchestras today. This is especially true of the Haydn 104. In addition, there are several later versions of the Beethoven 7 made by Karajan to consider such as those with the BPO on both CD and DVD.

In both works Karajan takes a brisk view of tempo and does not introduce variations of tempo as Thielemann does on his Bluray discs. These are features which fit very well with period performances and will feel very familiar to followers of many period conductors of today. There is no denying the thickening of textures in the lower areas of the orchestra resulting from orchestral size and a smoothing out of phrasing but also there is no denying Karajan's very clear sense of purpose whereby all movements conclude with that purpose fully delivered. This is distinctive and satisfying conducting with purpose.

The sound of the VPO as recorded is notably emotionally warmer than that provided in Berlin. The effect is of greater ease of expression while still moving on with purpose. Furthermore, there is less moulding of the lines than that of the later Berlin performances. This is to the advantage of these two recordings as is the more accurate tuning of the bassoon solo lines in the scherzo of the Beethoven, a lapse that is unfortunate and uncharacteristic in Berlin (1960's version).

I would suggest that if there is an interest in owning just one of Karajan's many Beethoven recordings, this disc has claims to be seriously considered. The Haydn, although clearly out of scale, is still convincing in its own way and has the advantage of cohesiveness and direction and at speeds that would not dismay modern period enthusiasts.

This then, is a surprisingly unexpected gem succeeding against the expected odds and, as such, is still a contender for consideration as a purchase. Best thought of as an alternative version though rather than as an 'only' version.


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