Remastering has improved this historic Beethoven Ninth, but
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Earlier I reviewed Karajan's 1947 performance of the Beethoven Ninth, made in war-torn Vienna by a barely revived Philharmonic, as the first great Ninth of the postwar era. I sitll believe it is, but I regret saying that the recorded sound was very good for its era. I should have said that it's good in spots, but other sides (it was made in 5-minute segments, as per usual with 78s) are gritty and patchy. Usually the very beginning of a movement has the worst surface wear, with the sonics improving as we move further along.
In this 2005 remastering for EMI's "karajan Colleciton" the soundstge is wider and less boxy than in the previous "References" isue from 1988. Surface scratchiness and ticks no longer dominate as much as before--though a noticeable amount remains--and there's a bit more smoothness in the strings. However, it sitll takes a while for the ear to adjust to historical mono sound that constrains the grandness of Beethoven's conception, so if you are the sort of historically minded listener who can already make such an adjustment, I'm not sure the new remastering will offer much added fideltiy. If you are new to the performance and don't have an old pressing to replace, however, this version is certianly the one to buy."
Better remastering of a great recording
Archaeologist | Los Angeles, CA | 07/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The remastering of Karajan's 1947 conducting of Beethoven's Ninth has improved the sound. Much has been said about this recording (see the notes by the Santa Fe Listener and also mine). What I suggest is that - if you are new to historical recordings - you download one of the tracks, listen to it carefully, and if you like it buy the cd. The MP3 doesn't always do justice to these recordings because it compresses considerably, and lower the sound quality. This is an excellent reading of the Ninth by Karajan. There is also another one now available on ORFEO with the Vienna Philharmonic but the sound quality is not very good."
I have always loved this one
J. R. Gibson | Eugene, Oregon, USA | 11/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I originally bought this recording in 1948 on 78 rpm discs & thought everything about it was wonderful, despite the conditions under which it was produced - freezing temperatures, no heating in the bombed out shell of the Hall, lighting & power provided by generators, & with opposition from the occupying Russian forces! To my great distress some discs were broken in later years during a house move & I was desperately hoping for the performance to be transferred to the more convenient CD.
So it is mono & the sound is not 1980s DG, but that is unimportant in comparison to the passion of the performance, whilst my copy has exceptional clarity & power. This is an historic recording [which I have used as the definitive yardstick for my own concert performances]. Perhaps almost equalled by Karajan's version with the Philharmonia, but not by his later Berlin Philharmonic ones. However, I must confess that, whilst drawing the line at really bad remastering, I do place performance higher than the technicalities of sound recording; many of the interpretations from as far back as the 1920s have never been equalled let alone beaten! [e.g. Sir Thomas Beecham & Stravinsky's Firebird Suite]."