These recordings of two Beethoven symphonies date from a period of change in the history of the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwängler was again its official principal conductor, but his declining health and other personal reasons left him unable to supervise the orchestra on a continuous basis. Ever...more
"The last pages – janissary madness and superhuman ambition – tell us the Pope of Music had arrived and lived securely in Berlin." (audaud.com)
These recordings of two Beethoven symphonies date from a period of change in the history of the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwängler was again its official principal conductor, but his declining health and other personal reasons left him unable to supervise the orchestra on a continuous basis. Ever since his first encounter with the Berlin Philharmonic Herbert von Karajan wanted nothing more than to be its principal conductor. These recordings shed light on his early work with the orchestra as a visiting conductor and as the successor to Wilhelm Furtwängler.
Karajan’s first post-war concert with the orchestra, featuring Beethoven’s Eroica, on 8 September 1953 reveals not only the actual condition of the orchestra but also what Karajan was able to accomplish as a conductor in this situation. At the time Karajan was mainly busy with the London Philharmonia Orchestra and raved about its virtuosity. Yet, in the Berlin Philharmonic, he discovered dimensions that transcended virtuosity, powers of expression that went beyond rehearsal levels in the moment of performance.
At the time of the live-recording of Beethoven’s Ninth, performed in the auditorium of the Berlin Musikhochschule on 25 April 1957 to celebrate the orchestra’s seventy-fifth anniversary, Karajan was already the orchestra’s principal conductor. The orchestra was in a phase of tedious remodeling caused by Karajan’s attempts to shape the sound of the orchestra according to his musical philosophy. Beethoven’s Ninth, with a sterling quartet of vocal soloists, has a large-scale command of form and a dense, coherent sound that reveal Karajan well on his way to the first complete recording of the symphonies.
There is a “Producer’s Comment” from producer Ludger Böckenhoff about this production available.
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