BEETHOVEN Symphonie No. 5 + 7 / Kleiber 4791106
. . . 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.