Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 9

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: DG Complete Beethoven Edition
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 9
PERFORMER: Gundula Janowitz (soprano), Hilde Rössl-Majdan (alto), Waldemar Kmentt (tenor), Walter Berry (bass) Vienna Singverein, Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan
CATALOGUE NO: 453 701-2 ADD 1963
One may feel that DG missed a golden opportunity here to offer a complete cycle featuring conductors such as Böhm, Jochum, Carlos Kleiber and Gardiner. Nonetheless, faced with a straight choice between their three Karajan cycles, I would probably opt for these Sixties performances. Current tastes may favour smaller-sized orchestral forces which place the first and second violins on opposite sides, a greater equality between the wind and string sections and a more consistent observation of all Beethoven’s repeat marks, but Karajan’s beautifully manicured interpretations compel admiration, not least for the outstanding playing of the Berlin Philharmonic. Erik Levi

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