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Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, Schubert: Symphony No. 5 / Böhm, Vienna Philharmonic Orch.

4.7 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 14, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

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For many music lovers, this is the most purely beautiful performance of Beethoven's most purely beautiful symphony ever recorded. The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is the last word in gorgeousness--the woodwind chords chime with such purity that they practically glow with an inner light. But it's not a self-indulgent interpretation at all: the storm rages as violently as anyone has a right to expect, and Karl Böhm keeps the music moving along impulsively, always highlighting the symphonic strength of Beethoven's musical argument. What makes the recording even more special is a Schubert Fifth with exactly the same qualities. Someone at DG clearly knows where the treasures are buried. A great disc. --David Hurwitz
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Karl Böhm
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (May 14, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GQL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,228 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favorite recordings ever. Karl Böhm, one of the most sadly underrated conductors of the twentieth century, turns in an absolutely magical interpretation of Beethoven's gorgeous Sixth. It is difficult to describe what makes this such a miraculous performance. The main reason is that Böhm doesn't feel the need to give us "Karl Böhm's version of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony." He simply allows Beethoven to speak directly to us, with his conducting merely enhancing and intensifying what is already in the music. He paints the symphony vividly and with an enormous range of astonishingly beautiful colors - he draws the most intoxicating orchestral playing I have ever heard, on any set, out of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The sound is unbelievably gorgeous, but it's always meaningful, and is always a true Beethoven sound. The strings' translucent radiance and refined beauty are truly stunning, the brass is enormously rich and sonorous, the timpani are clear and incisive, but the most amazing section of the orchestra is the woodwind. The flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon all produce the most glorious sound, phrasing ardently and radiating an almost otherworldly light. The tender beauty of the flute and oboe solos in the central section of the Scene by the Brook is almost overwhelming. That movement is perhaps the most exceptional part of an exceptional recording. Böhm takes fourteen minutes over this movement, but he has the extremely rare gift of superbly sustaining slow tempi, with the result that this performance flows more smoothly than many much quicker performances, while the actual spaciousness of the tempo aids the conveying of the movement's stillness and serenity.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of those "legendary" recordings that makes me wonder if it's only me who's unable to fully grasp its virtues. Which is why I read through all the reviews here, and I must say, they all make sense to me, one way or the other.
The stubbornly slow and rigid tempos are something to admire and allow for plenty of detail that otherwise might go unnoticed, and yet, is a Pastorale that makes it possible for one to read a book or check upon one's e-mails ideally paced?
I also agree with other reviewers here that the 2nd movement is made to sound or rather "feel" similar to the 1st, which I find, to say the least, surprising - is so little contrast among the first two if not three movements really what Beethoven had in mind? On the other hand, I am sure many listeners will find the leisurely "walking pace" of the 2nd movement "Scene by the Brook" to be of singular serenity.
Orchestral precision is truly fine, especially in terms of details, and the Viennese lean-texturedness is just at the opposite side of the spectrum than Karajan and his Berliners (at his later worst, not his earlier best). Winds and strings, although the former do not necessarily have more "glow" (as David Hurwitz seems to be claiming) than in other top recommendations (see further below), are certainly worthy of praise.
The recording has always been somewhat bass-shy, so much so that the concentration on Bohm's "plastic (pliant?) middle voices" (as one German critic said in 1972) becomes, well, inevitable. It's still well-balanced enough and nicely transparent, but a more physical bottom end might even have improved one's view of the interpretation, hard to tell. The "Storm" of the 4th mouvement nonetheless sounds very believable.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Obviously a labor of love for conductor and orchestra. Every nuance of the Maestro's most sensitive and heart-felt symphony is offered with exquisite concern for balance and depth.I never thought I would find the flowing Andanteperformed in so dreamlike afashion -- have been frustrated by it being too rushed before. But here it almost a bit too langorous!Picayune complaints: the allegro is also a tad lacking in brio. But overall, and far, far more importantly, this is one of the very best, most rapturous versions of the Pastorale you will EVER hear! Side by side with Bruno Walter's. And the sound quality (remastered from '71) is exceptional also! Accept no substitutes.
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By A Customer on February 20, 2004
Format: Audio CD
When buying Beethoven symphonies, it is very easy to end up with a dry and unmemorable recording from a lesser known orchestra, or one of billions made by Karajan over the decades. Thankfully, this CD is readily available, and changes all that.
This is the definitive 'Pastoral'. I own three versions and have heard several others and none even come close. It feels like a perfect balance between tempo, dynamics and recorded sound. The VPO play from the heart, under one of Vienna's greatest conductors with tremendous energy and accuracy. The sound is what I have come to expect from DG's Originals: a superb analogue tape recording transparently transferred to CD. It hails from an era that brought together old-school conductors, mature technology and attention to detail, in an environment with lighter commercial pressures. The result is simply delightful.
Boehm's style is not suited to all music - but this is a perfect match. He also deteriorated with age; his 1981 9th Symphony recording is very weak, but that he managed it at all is incredible. The double set consisting of the Eroica and Ninth is well worth having, as are most of his Mozart performances.
On top of everything else, this CD is an absolute steal. It is without doubt 'required listenning' even for those who have a passing interest in Beethoven.
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