Symphony No 7 Original recording remastered
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The EMI/BPO version, therefore, is the one to get; indeed, it is the most eloquent rendition of this work I have heard. It's difficult to ruin the opening of the symphony, with its seamless melodic arches, but in Karajan's hands it is simply magical: hushed, intense, never pushing ahead too aggressively or interrupting the flow with gratuitious rubato or agogic distortions. And the spell continues unbroken from that point to the end of the movement. The great Adagio is less a funeral observance for Richard Wagner (which is presumably what Bruckner intended) than a threnody for a world in need of redemption, a heavenly Mass for All Souls. The scherzo interrupts these rites with an impertinent cockcrow, conveying a sense of tingling anticipation; dawn is at hand. The finale, which can seem the weakest of the four movements in lesser performances, blossoms as its should without overbalancing the rapt first movement and weighty Adagio; it neither seems perfunctory nor outstays its welcome.
In sum, this is something like a complete realization of Bruckner's most accessible symphony. Karajan's DG version is also a strong performance, but some of the magic had gone out of his conception by the time he had come to revisit the score.Read more ›
There is no doubt that Karajan is in a class by himself in this symphony with few competitors. Obviously Furtwangler comes to mind, can Karajan compete with that master in terms of raw emotion and spiritual power? I'm here to tell you that Karajan succeeds marvelously. Karajan's Bruckner 7th is not superficial and not merely concerned with surface beauty and gloss like in later performances. No, everything sounds gorgeous but is also deeply moving. The famous adagio is magnificent, a true testament to Karajan's art and of course Bruckner's.
Although the earlier reviewer praises Karajan's digital Bruckner 7th with the Vienna Philharmonic, I must strongly disagree. Not only was the Berlin Philharmonic of the seventies a better orchestra than the Vienna Philharmonic of the eighties but EMI gives them outstanding sound quality while the DG record has some of the typical digital glare that DG was famous for in the 80's. The DG recording is also more expensive.
This EMI recording sounds perfect and is played to perfection, don't miss out on this opportunity to own possibly the finest version of this symphony. If you have the earlier Karajan Edition version, guess what, this is the exact same recording and the exact same remastering, there is nothing new, trust me. But since it always sounded great, there is nothing to complain about except EMI's nagging hobby of repackaging the exact same product.
Berlin Phil., 1971 (EMI) -- Beginning at the beginning is a good idea in this case, because the first Seventh from Karajan is nothing less than stupendous. Recorded in the Berliners' best venue, Jesus Christus Kirche, this recording comes across with overwhelming force. The perspective is a bit too distant, however, and there's considerable reverberation, but Karajan favored such a sound to capture the grand sweep of his interpreation. At the softer extreme of dynamics, this account can hardly be bettered for refinement. The combination of power and delicacy sets Karajan's Bruckner apart, even if critics complained about a lack of soul, whatever that evanescent quality means. Total timing is 68 min., making tis the slowest of his three recordings. However, since the differences are half a minute here and there, one cannot point to an exceptionally fast or slow movement in any of them. My only serious objection to this magnificent account is that the fortissimo climaxes are brutal on the ear, thanks in part to the engineering (typical of Karajan's releases at the time, the dynamics vary from softer than soft to crushingly loud) but also to the conductor's desire to produce superhuman impact from the massed Berlin brasses.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've been collecting classical music for a pretty long time, it's fun to discover all the great works and the different versions available. Read morePublished on August 1, 2013 by Christopher Henrici
This performance of Bruckner Symphony No 7 has a hallowed reputation. When I initially heard it I was disconcerted by the substandard sound. Read morePublished on December 3, 2009 by Ivor E. Zetler
With this 1971 von Karajan EMI recording there's no great struggle taking place, no pushing and pulling. Read morePublished on October 21, 2008 by Andre Gauthier