Fine performances but filming a little eccentric
Anton Karidian | Tennessee | 07/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am very excited by the release of this von Karajan cycle of the Beethoven symphonies. This set was recorded in the late 1960s to early 1970s, and the sound quality is very good on a high-quality stereo system, though since my audio system is not surround sound I can't evaluate that aspect of it. Herbert von Karajan is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest conductors of the 20th century, and around 1970 he was at his peak. You can buy this whole set of Beethoven symphonies on 3 DVDs and entitled "Beethoven - The Symphonies Boxset," or you can buy each DVD separately. So here you've got the DVD of Symphonies 1, 2, and 3. Von Karajan conducts them skillfully, employing a good choice of tempos. Muscially, everything is judiciously done and there are no bizarre moments where you wonder what they were thinking. Symphony Number 3 is given an especially powerful reading, since it's the first of the Beethoven symphonies written in his intensely personal style that made him one of the truly great composers.
After reading some reviews of this DVD set, I was fearful that the manner of filming would be annoying to me. After watching this set several times I've come to feel that visually it's actually rather stylish and refreshingly different, though I do agree that von Karajan is shown too much (especially on Symphony Number 2 here), and I do wish that the entire orchestra or large sections of it had been shown more, rather than the close-ups that were usually done. Yet overall I'm fairly pleased with the filming techniques, and at any rate the music is paramount, is it not? If I could, I would give the visuals of this DVD a 3 and the music a 5. By the way, Amazon lists the region code of this as "unknown," yet my copy at least is a Region 0, so it will play anywhere in the world. And if you'd like to see some very good and lengthy customer reviews of this entire set of DVDs, look for the title "Beethoven - The Symphonies Boxset" and conducted by Herbert von Karajan. These are exciting and moving performances of the Beethoven symphonies."