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Beethoven - The Symphonies Boxset / Herbert von Karajan, Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Jess Thomas, Walter Berry, Berlin Philharmoniker (2005)

Herbert von Karajan , Berlin Opera  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Beethoven - The Symphonies Boxset / Herbert von Karajan, Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Jess Thomas, Walter Berry, Berlin Philharmoniker + Brahms: The Symphonies [DVD Video] + Karajan, Or, Beauty As I See It
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Product Details

  • Actors: Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Opera, Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 327 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ANXLB2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,397 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Symphonies 6, 9 (1968)
  • Symphonies 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 (1972)
  • Symphonies 4, 5 (1973)

Editorial Reviews

The complete 9 symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven are featured in this boxed set of 3 DVD's. Herbert von Karajan is featured as the conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The 9th symphony features vocal soloists Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludw

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karajan at his peak December 21, 2005
Verified Purchase
For many lovers of Beethoven's Symphonies, Karajan's 1962 integrated set of the nine (available as a CD box set from DGG) is the best available. For some (but not me), that collection is definitive: individual symphonies may vary in quality of performance, they say, but in toto, as a unified vision of these orchestral masterpieces, there is no finer set. In his later years, with the dawning of the digital era, Karajan re-recorded the Beethoven Nine. I purchased those autumnal efforts as they were released. I found them to be slow, essentially lackluster performances. They were filmed as well, and when this DVD set was initially offered for sale, I feared it contained films of those later, inferior recordings. Thankfully, it does not.

These performances date from the late 1960's - early 1970's. In many ways, they may be the best Beethoven recordings Karajan ever made. Those of you familiar with Carlos Kleiber's recordings of the 5th and 7th Symphonies might be interested to know that Karajan's 5th (lasting 30 minutes) and 7th (34 minutes) have a comparable urgency of expression. They are powerful, fleet explorations of these two ubiquitous works. His 5th is almost as fast as Roger Norrington's speed-freak version. It is as if Karajan sensed the future onslaught of period performances and was determined to pre-empt them.

The 1st (23 minutes) and 2nd (31 minutes) are Haydnesque Symphonies and Karajan conducts them as such. He gives them a Classical grace with a hint of the Beethovenian power to come. I love Beethoven's even-numbered symphonies; beautifully serene and graceful works that are less frequently played. They strike me as more personal expressions of Beethoven's genius, as if he had nothing to prove but his love for Music.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karajan at the height of his powers March 29, 2006
Thank heavens that the protracted wrangling between DG and Unitel seems to have been amicably resolved and this long-admired set of Beethoven symphony films has reached DVD.

Karajan was arguably at the apex of his conducting career in the late 1960s and early 1970s and this set - laid down between 1967-1972 - captures this gloriously.

The superbly-honed Berlin Philharmonic respond to their maestro as if one man and Karajan is certainly the embodiment of what the Germans call fingerspitzengefuehl - a combination of experience and intuitive instinct. He had, after all, lived and breathed these peaks of the orchestral repertoire for many years and that knowledge and feel for the works pays off here in spades.

Karajan's keen interest in film-making is also showcased as he directs symphonies 4, 5 and 9 himself. Other celebrated directors take the helm for the remaining symphonies, including an endlessly fascinating Pastoral from Hugo Niebeling whose arty shots and quirky, psychadelic take could only be a product of the 1960s and which distills an interesting collision between high art and flower power - definitely one to see and one I have returned to time again. A sense of experimentation is also evident - a stunning Eroica has the BPO parcelled-up into inverted triangular segments (ancient Greek theatre is brought to mind) while the glossy floor under Karajan's podium is washed by different colours as the symphony progresses. Some may think it tacky, I found it a refreshing and stimulating visual treat.

As for the performances themselves Karajan's famous 1962 DG cycle on disc and his follow-up 1976 cycle have long been highly recommendable.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative playing January 8, 2006
Superb rendition in exquisite sound of Beethoven's nine symphonies by the orchestra and conductor who inspired a generation of classical music lovers during the 1960s and 1970s. Having attended live performances of this ensemble under Karajan between 1959 and 1983, this stunning set brings back to me the extraordinary experience each of those concert generated. Highly recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herb Rocks!! April 25, 2006
This is a DVD version of Herbert Von Karajan's great late '60s early '70s Beethoven cycle. Many of you must have purchased the original audio recordings when they were released by DG on Vinyl back then. They remain, to my ears, absolutely the best interpretations of this repetoire. I've been watching a symphony a day for the last week and they meet or surpass all expectations. The audio is crystal clear, brassy horns, piercing winds, deep resonant cellos and basses and shimmering strings. The video sets retain a bare bones "classic" almost Greek like feel, befitting early 1800s music. However, the subtle, creative use of video is very effective (the horns in the Eroica and the use of light at the climax of the 9th come to mind). Herbert Von Karajan was one of the best, if not the greatest, conductors of Beethoven. It is a treat to see his conducting style at work, the sheer strength of feeling, combined with traditional German reserve and hidden fragility of feeling. Much has been said about Karajan's clouded association with the Nazis. That being said, it does not take one iota from his talent as a great conductor. This is perhaps the best digital recording you will ever see of these works (Yes, Karajan was a pioneer of digital recording). Put aside the politics and enjoy one heck of a ride. Here's a bit of trivia. During the '70s I briefly visited Vienna. Young musicians in America sometimes carry pictures of rock star heroes in their wallets. I remember seeing a young teenaged violinist. Guess whose picture SHE had in HER wallet? You guessed it. None other than Herbert himself! LUDWIG VAN RULES AND OLD HERB LIVES ON IN DVD AS HIS CONDUCTOR!! Enjoy!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Who played what????
I saw more fingers on the left hand of the conductor than I did of the musicians ( probable all virtuosos).. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Fred
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST PLAYING THE BEST
For me, Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic for the performance of all of Beethoven's symphonies is my most valued 'Box of Music' and ranks as a 'Must Have'. Read more
Published 18 months ago by JRS35
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to go wrong
My review will be quite short.

Herbet Von Karajan
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon

It is simply impossible to go... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Richard Godin
5.0 out of 5 stars Up To Snuff
I have to give five stars. I think this a magnificent rendering of Beethoven's nine symphonies. I watched and listenened intently to the 9th Symphony first. Read more
Published on November 20, 2011 by Donald P. Jennings
2.0 out of 5 stars Over the hill and egotistical camera work
Nobody can beat Herbert von Karajans' CD recordings of the Beethoven symphonies (1963) for quality of sound and performance in that era. Read more
Published on February 9, 2011 by Michael Malloy
5.0 out of 5 stars Despite Quirky Visuals, Great Performance
This set features performances coming about 6 years after Karajan's 1962/1963 Beethoven cycle. That earlier cycle remains, and will likely remain, the definitive set of Beethoven... Read more
Published on October 15, 2009 by Gadgester
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Set!
This is an excellent set of Beethoven's complete symphonic cycle. It has great sound and was nicely shot. Read more
Published on May 23, 2009 by jo-jo operabuff
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's Beethoven? Give me back my Beethoven baby!
It is at best Ok, average performance. The delivery of Beethoven music, probably because of BAD camera work is tedious and heavy. Since it is DVD I was expecting for more. Read more
Published on March 11, 2008 by Alex Vox
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sound and performances, venue & production qualities a little...
I have this set and Abbado's of Beethonven 9 symphonies on DVD.

I like both, but I give the edge to Abbado. Read more
Published on July 7, 2007 by King Lemuel
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes
The Abbado DVD cycle is worth every cent and more - its gorgeous

Same for Bernsteins Ode to Freedom DVD


This cycle

Is AWESOME... Read more
Published on April 20, 2007 by Stefahn
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