Michael Walsh
February 16, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Herbert von Karajan
genre
Classical

We gave it a B+

The Herbmeister recorded the Beethoven symphonies four times: thrice with the Berlin Philharmonic and once — the first time — with England’s Philharmonia Orchestra. The best cycle remains the incomparable 1961-62 Berlin version, but this set (recorded 1951-55) is strong: light, bright, and right on the money. Four years after the Allies slapped a one-and-a-half-year denazification ban on Karajan’s conducting activities, the young (44) maestro was frisky and ready to party. The British record producer Walter Legge gave him a band, turned on the tape recorder, and the rest is history.

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