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Symphony No 7 Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, August 16, 2005
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 16, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B0009NDKV4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,789 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This is the earliest of Karajan's three recordings of Bruckner's Seventh (the first two with BPO, the last--the conductor's final recording--with the VPO), and it is clearly superior to his later versions. The sound is warmer than the DG/BPO recording, and so is the interpretation. The DG/VPO version, on the other hand, strikes me as too soft-centered, closer to Bruno Walter's way with the composer than we might have expected from Karajan.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
I am very thankful that Karajan got a chance to record with EMI during the seventies, continuing their relationship which dates back to the 1940's. During the seventies, EMI generally gave Karajan much better sound than his main recording company Deutsche Grammophon. EMI gave Karajan that gorgeous, lush, wide-ranging aura that I find utterly intoxicating and which can be proven just by listening to this outstanding Bruckner record.

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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I will admit that I'm not that fond of Karajan as a conductor, in general. His R. Strauss is very good as is most of his Sibelius and some of his Tchaikovsky. However, his Beethoven (excepting his 9th & 5th) and Brahms make me feel as though I'm breaking out in hives. So, I wasn't that optimistic about listening to his Bruckner. I do think his 8th is a bit overrated, but this is one of the finest 7ths I've ever heard, along with Bohm's live 1977 (Bavarian Radio SO), Furtwangler's Berlin (beter sound than Cairo or Rome, all with the BPO from circa 1949-50) and Knappertsbusch's 1949 VPO. Those are the only performances of this symphony I've heard that gave me goose-bumps and sent a chill up my spine. It (Karajan's) is certainly good enough to make me want to look back and check which version of the 8th of his it was that I listened to, and give the other one a try to see if I missed something
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Format: Audio CD
Karajan was considered by many to be the dominant Bruckner conductor of the postwar era - although there are strong partisans of Celibidache, Jochum, and Gunter Wand. Whatever cavils there are about his interpretations, there's no arguing the splendor of Karajan's approach, his technical mastery, and the grandeur of the orchestral playing his evoked. In the case of the Seventh Sym. we have three choices, dating between 1971 and 1989, in other words from the summit of his career to a few months before his death.

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.
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