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Karajan: Beethoven – Symphony no.9 (SACD, ISO)

Karajan: Beethoven - Symphony no.9 (SACD, ISO)
Karajan: Beethoven – Symphony no.9 (SACD, ISO)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Agnes Baltsa, Peter Schreier, Jose van Dam, Wiener Singverein
Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: SACD ISO
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 4.36 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
02. II. Molto vivace
03. III. Adagio molto e cantabile
04. IV. Presto
05. Presto – “O Freunde, nicht diese Tone!”

Ode To Joy

I have not listened to this symphony in a while, although when I first started enjoying classical music many years ago (rock being my primary choice in music) I listened to it a lot, this being one of the performances of it that I played most often.

I will eventually dig out my old CD to do an a/b comparison, but from memory I can say that there is a nice improvement in fidelity here on this blu-ray disc. What stands out particularly to me is how well the horns and chorus sound, with these sections benefiting the most, to my ears, towards sounding more life-like versus the regular CD. The little bit of percussion in here sounds great too. It all sounds good, but that is what I find most notable. When the chorus comes in, it is like heaven opening up. In case anyone is not sure, this is a two channel stereo mix only. I never imagined buying any more Beethoven symphonies again since I have quite a few, but I do not regret this purchase.

You can have a lot of fun with imagery while listening to this symphony. The final minute of the first movement has to be the most foreboding and ominous piece of music that I’ve ever heard. Hearing this masterpiece in this quality only adds to the fun and emotion and allows you to really get lost in it, and get lost in it you should in order to really appreciate it. A HD download is included.

Newly Remastered in Best Ever Sound

Like many, I’m always interested in obtaining the best possible mastering of any recording I buy. Unfortunately, record companies frequently repackage older masterings without making that fact clear. When they actually do remaster a recording, they often boost the treble frequencies resulting in an unnatural balance. Neither is the case here.

I compared this release directly with each prior digital release of this material, including both CD releases as well as the SACD release. I also performed spectral analysis and comparison between releases. My conclusion is that this new release is dramatically better than any that have come before.

The first two releases on CD used the original mix which suffered from excessive multi-miking along with Karajan’s well-known interference in the mixing and mastering processes during this period. The SACD features a remix which mitigates many of the faults, but the overall tonal balance is lacking weight in the bass which makes it unpleasant to listen to. My feeling is that this new release probably utilized the earlier remix but boosted the bass in the mastering phase for a more natural presentation.

Sounds Great, Performed Well

I am a guy that has SACDs and DVD-A’s. I am happy to see another high def format out there. This recording sounds great, was recorded well, and is performed well. It is well worth a few extra dollars to have this level of audio to listen to, assuming that you have a setup that will handle it well. In most cases, this means upgrading your speakers, btw.

15 thoughts on “Karajan: Beethoven – Symphony no.9 (SACD, ISO)”

  1. I just recently acquired the Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No 9 Wilhelm Furtwängler Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus (1951) on a vinyl RCA Victor Box set LM-6043. But while I was researching the set I came across some splendid information in regards to the above (1977) Beethoven Ninth.
    I am wondering if there might be another site besides Filepost with this work… that you know of? Someday I would love to have the tech gear and rig that you work with to make these audiophile recording of the precious vinyl masters of the music that I love. Thank you for your splendid work and care for this music… as it is the lifeblood that keeps me going.

  2. I have close to 200 SACD’s in my collection and my efforts to extract the DSD has been unsuccessful so far. May I ask how you managed to extract the SACD layer ISO? – regards, J

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