The recording of the Fifth comes up superbly in the new transfer. What, though, of the Seventh Symphony, an equally distinguished performance though always perceptibly greyer-sounding on LP, and on CD? Well, it too is superb. What the Original-Image Bit-Processing has done to it, I wouldn't begin to know, but the result is a performance of genius that now speaks to us freely and openly for the first time. In some ways this is a more important document than the famous Fifth. Great recordings of the Seventh, greatly played and greatly conducted, but with first and second violins divided left and right, are as rare as gold-dust. Freshly refurbished, this Kleiber Seventh would go right to the top of my short list of recommendable Sevenths. It is wonderful to have these two legendary performances so expertly restored and placed together on one disc for the first time.
Kleiber's superlatively played readings are unbeatable. If you own just one Beethoven disc, this should be it.
Mercurial, thrilling accounts of two warhorses from the unique Carlos Kleiber.
. . . the pairing of Kleiber's interpretations of these two masterpieces on one recording has become an essential recommendation for any collection. These are performances which seem to present a Beethoven "for the ages", a distillation of a long interpretative tradition . . . The sense of something monumental is enhanced by the imposing Vienna Musikverein acoustic. But that doesn't blur Kleiber's superfine attention to detail, with perfectly balanced textures and subtly graded transitions . . . And the 1970s Vienna Philharmonic was a band of an equally detailed response . . . The Fifth Symphony moves in an unerring line from its famous opening, crackling with excitement, to its celebratory ending. And the Seventh, with all its repeated rhythmic units, generates so much momentum that the thrilling acceleration Kleiber whips up in the final bars almost seems the only possible outcome.
A 1995 release testifying to the formidable power Kleiber could generate, coupled with pinpoint-accurate dynamics and texture.
. . . these two Beethoven symphonies . . . are among the very finest performances of these works that have ever been captured in the studio. If there is a Beethoven Top 40 chart topper, Symphony No. 5 would certainly be the people's choice . . . Even those who know next to nothing about classical music would immediately recognize the "fate knocking at the door" theme that opens this work . . . The Vienna Musikvereinsaal is a concert venue with decent acoustics and this remastering gives us a good account of both symphonies with excellent spread across the stage . . . [the release offers] to newcomers an unprecedented opportunity to hear some extraordinary Beethoven symphonic performances by an interpreter who, for the most part, seemed to have a direct connection to its creator. For the best example that I can think of, the Allegretto second movement of the Seventh Symphony, often a formulaic afterthought in most recordings, gets a straight-to-the-core rendition that will stay with listeners long after this work is over.
. . . the greatest Beethoven performance of at least the last half century . . . this Blu-ray audio disc takes the already excellent recording to near demonstration level. The buzz of the strings (the opening) and brass is improved, but there is practically no harshness or glare in the high frequencies. Spatial cues are at least equal to the SACD and focal instrumental imaging is better . . . The sound of the Seventh is qualitatively similar . . . These differences are admittedly subtle, but they are the kind of things that are critically important to audiophiles who love music. I cannot imagine any serious music lover or audiophile with the capacity to play Blu-ray audio discs not having this recording. One of the great recorded performances of the century has finally received full sonic justice.
. . . this Carlos Kleiber performance has a compelling intensity and electric energy that is utterly suited to the emotional world of the Fifth Symphony. Kleiber didn't often go into the recording studio, but when he did the results were entirely unforgettable, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on blistering form here.