Powerful reading, great playing
Stephen Chakwin | Norwalk, CT USA | 01/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It sometimes takes some sophistication to listen past the almost inhumanly beautiful BPO playing on a release like this. And some attention to detail, not likely the strong suit of someone who doesn't even bother to spell the conductor's name correctly.
This is probably the best of Karajan's three BPO Eroicas, the one in which he achieved the best balance between attention to detail (listen to how many different kinds of accents he can get in inner orchestral voices without overwhelming the main lines of the music) and the long phrases he uses to build the architecture of the four movements individually and into the giant structure of the symphony. The nobility of the last several minutes of the first movement, the elevated grief of the second, the energy of the third, and the vitality and ultimate grandeur of the fourth are outstandingly caught here, often with beautifully simple playing.
One of the things that separates this from so many other performances is the aliveness of the sound of the orchestra. The bass line sounds almost like a human voice, the violins like liquid fire. There's power and healthy tension in the playing all the time, but never strain or gratuitous harshness.
This last may be a reservation for some people. They may want Beethoven performances with more obvious struggles against the music. This is not the reading for them.
Instead, this is a strong, honest, and beautiful recording of one of the masterworks of the human spirit and a great bargain at this price.
The overture is as famous as the symphony and is a welcome discmate."