BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21. Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36.
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON SACD 474 601 TT: 56:32
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica." Symphony No. 4 in B flat, Op. 60.
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON SACD 474 602 TT: 81:16
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 "Pastorale."
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON SACD 474 603 TT: 67:14
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92. Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93.
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON SACD 474 604 TT: 67:14
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral."
Gundula Janowitz, soprano; Hilde Rössel-Majdan, contralto; Waldemar Kmentt, tenor; Walter Berry, bass; Wiener Singverein; Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON SACD 474 605 TT: 67:03
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Karajan made four complete recordings of Beethoven's symphonies beginning with a 1951-1955 EMI set with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The first of his three with the Berlin Philharmonic has been justifiably praised, although Karajan was criticized for his omission of a repeat in the third movement of Symphony No. 6. The score describes the music as ("Pleasant, Cheerful Feelings Awakened in a Person on Arriving in the Country") and as Karajan logically stated, to take the repeat would mean those involved would arrive twice. At any rate, these performances are superbly played—and it is remarkable how grand they sound newly remixed and remastered by Emil Berliner Studios.These are powerful performances that have been issued many times before, and at budget price. Even though these SACDs are full-price, Karajan aficionados surely will wish to have them—there is clarity, detail and impact never heard before. Two years ago DGG issued Karajan's 1977 recording of Symphony No. 9 in an ill-advised "surround sound" remix that disappointed (REVIEW). In every way, including sonics, the 1962 stereo Ninth version is superior. Fortunately on these remasterings no attempt has been made to create surround sound—all five SACDs are identified as "SACD Stereo" although the accompanying pamphlet suggests the listener will hear surround sound. Highly recommended on all accounts except price.

R.E.B. (September 2004)