Carlos Kleiber / Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Beethoven: Symphonien Nos. 5 & 7

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As recommendable an album as anyone could wish, Carlos Kleiber's performances with the Vienna Philharmonic of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, and the Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, are classics that should always be within reach, and this disc should be passed along to friends as the single best pairing of these two pieces. Other performances of these symphonies are absolutely essential to know, and recordings by many great conductors and orchestras certainly compete with this Deutsche Grammophon album for listeners' affections. But for sheer excitement, cogent direction, and expressive playing, none is more convincing. Kleiber was highly esteemed for his thorough musicianship, and his clarity of interpretation and communication skills with musicians resulted in performances that were compelling in their power and fascinating for their faithfulness to details in the score. If the hallmarks of great performances are the way they grab onto the listener through their energy and sustain interest for their finer points, no matter how familiar the pieces are, then these riveting and utterly lucid readings of Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh are great indeed. Even purists who insist on period style in their Beethoven must concede honors to Kleiber for his accuracy and attention to repeats, for following the indicated instrumentation, and for careful application of all the dynamics. In depth of musicality, technical polish, and all matters of instrumentation except for the size of the orchestra, these recordings surpass many historically informed performances and make some of them seem pedantic and empty in comparison. Add to these accumulated merits DG's scrupulous engineering and masterful , incredible ADD sound, and this unassailable disc wins in any match-up.

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