Beethoven: 9 Symphonies - Karajan (1963)

Beethoven: 9 Symphonies - Karajan (1963)

Deutsche Grammophon  474 600-2 (6 discs)

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 1-9, Rehearsal: Symphony No. 9

Gundula Janowitz (soprano), Hilde Rössel-Majdan (alto), Waldemar Kmentt (tenor), Walter Berry (bass)
Wiener Singverein
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan (conductor)

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Analogue recording

Recorded 1961-2.
Reviews (1)

Review by John Broggio - January 15, 2006

This review mainly summarises my reviews of the original releases:

Beethoven: Symphonies 1 & 2 - Karajan

The first symphony is generally very fine with a slow Menuetto, the second symphony is altogether completely recommendable for the style of Beethoven playing and for a stereo only disc.

Beethoven: Symphonies 3 & 4 - Karajan

The Eroica is slightly underpowered in the first two movements but picks up later and has a slightly congested recording. The fourth symphony is very good indeed.

Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 6 - Karajan

Both of these works are stupendously played and perhaps is the best disc of the cycle. The fifth symphony has a good as performance as one could want and the Pastoral symphony is played with a decidedly "modern" view of the tempi (but some may think this inappropriate).

Beethoven: Symphonies 7 & 8 - Karajan

The seventh and eight symphonies both receive very good performances (the "slow" Scherzo of the eight symphony is the only minor blemish in my opinion).

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - Karajan (1962)

A most enjoyable reading that doesn't quite match the re-make of 1976 musically but the recording is much more realistic.

A bonus disc that comes with the above includes about 30 minutes of the rehearsals to the ninth symphony. No translations (or in fact the text itself) which would make it tricky for those who do not speak German to understand what is being said. There are some very engaging moments which reveal a completely different side to the Berliners relationship with Karajan than in the turbulent 1980's (but then it would have been an almost completely different orchestra); there is much mutual respect and a lot of humour on display. About 10 minutes each are spent on each of the first, third & fourth movements (without soloists).

The sound on all discs is a little harsh on the upper strings (and the upper voices in the ninth symphony) but is remarkably detailed for the age except where noted above. Generally recommended for those who want a stereo-only set of an "old school" style of Beethoven but both sound and interpretation have moved on.


Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and



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