"At this point, Sony has released all of its von Karajan performances of the Beethoven symphonies on five DVDs. They are all very good performances, created for film (rather than concert performance) in the early 80s. Von Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic, his personal orchestra, and the performance is as much von Karajan as Beethoven. Musically, these are very fine performances, with von Karajan in absolute control of the orchestra which plays very precisely. These are the performance as he wanted to present them -- smooth, well thought-out, and note-perfect.There is probably no right way to put symphonic music onto film -- these productions (made by conductor's own film company) spend most of their time focused on the conductor with cut-away shots to both individual and groups of instrumentalists (also singers in the 9th), usually focusing on the instruments themselves rather than the players. It is fascinating to watch von Karajan -- his authority in the music and with this orchestra are clear thoughout each performance. He conducts without a baton and uses his whole body to conduct, though not in a distracting way (I am thinking of Leonard Bernstein here).The sound and picture on these DVDs are excellent; the sound is truly comparable to a well-recorded CD. The soundtrack is available both in stereo and also an excellent 5.1 Dolby mix. The disks have a set of program notes and a biography of von Karajan."
Juan Keledjian | MIAMI, FL USA | 03/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Karajan's version of the famous Beethoven's 5th is one of the most copied, well-know interpretations of this symphony. The noise of the arcs beating the strings is the signature of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and this symphony give us plenty of these. There is nothing I could criticize about this interpretation, it's just the way it should be, no less, no more. I could almost see myself in my room, when I was a kid, conducting like krazy an imaginary orchestra with the stereo at full volume. For those unfortunate ones that knew this symphony from another orchestra/conductor, listening to Karajan's version could be no less than a revelation. The fourth is completely diferent in character, but equally impecable performance. Buy these versions and you'll never have to buy another one."
Good performances- poor DVD quality
Juan Keledjian | 12/29/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Many others have noted in reviews of Sony's Karjan series, the audio & video quality are very poor. This would not even be considered adequate for VHS. Aside from the DVD quality, the camerawork is disappointing also. It is full of closeups of the conductor- and some of instrumentalists. The result is that you never get a sense of the big picture, the whole orchestra. The same could be said of the sound. It focuses on specific instruments, and sounds artificial. The performances are otherwise fairly good, though I find them a bit cold."
The most romantic of all music
Jaime Valenzuela Orrego | Chile | 03/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beethoven's fifth, along with his seventh and ninth symphonies are, in my opinion, the best classical music ever written, and thus Beethoven the best composer ever.
Many "experts" argues that either Mozart or Bach is the best composer ever. My argument in favor of Beethoven is the following: most of the people begin to listen classical music after hearing the fifth or the ninth, and then they follow with other Beethoven's pieces. Because the law of decreasing marginal pleasure after listen the same pieces many times, people begin to explore other composers, and then they arrive to Mozart or Bach. But the lure to listen classical music most of the times is Beethoven, and thus by democracy Beethoven is the best.
Regarding this performance of the fifth by Karajan, I will not refer to the quality of the image recording nor to the camera shootings, but to the quality of the music. Karajan performs and unsurpassable emotive, strength and full of passion version of the fifth. If one reads about Beethoven's live when he wrote the fifth, one would imagine that Beethoven would play the symphony with all the strength, sentiment and passion that Karajan does. The fifth, along with the ninth, are the most romantic of all pieces, because they really express the struggle in the soul of human beings towards goodness and triumph. No other music achieve the former as these two symphonies do, and no other performer is able to express Beethoven's feeling better than Karajan."
Top Notch All The Way
Ronald Otto von Frohling | Round Rock, Texas United States | 03/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! I was emotionally exhausted after viewing/listening to this DVD! The performances offerd by both Herbert von Karajan and the orchestra are astounding! As Gary Oldman said in Immortal Beloved: "The nature of music is to put oneself into the mental state of the composer; it is like hypnotism!" Herbert von Karajan _is_ in the mental state of the composer/s. 60+ years or so of conducting has given him an uncanny ability to interpert the composers music in a very personal way! His range of emotionall expressions as he conducts is astounding! It's like watching a man possessed by the music; enraptured by it..almost in a hypnotic state! I watch this disc over and over again not just for the music (which speaks for itself) but for the range of expressions one see's on Herr Karajan's face: from monster to empassioned prisoner of the music! Wow!!!"