Excellent introduction to Bruckner's music When I wanted to explore Bruckner's work, I rather capriciously selected this piece as my introduction. While I must offer the caveat that I listen with the ear of a rank and untrained amateur, I was very pleased with this recording. There is an atmosphere of grace and solemnity that pervades the music in the first and second movements, while the Scherzo provides a strength and passion that is captivating and has endeared this piece to me. There is a dramatic quality to this symphony that is both exciting and sublime. Perhaps those more learned in Bruckner would suggest otherwise, but I am very pleased with the Seventh symphony as my introduction and look forward to exploring his other symphonies....more info
A Masterpiece This was the last CD made by Karajan before his death and it was a most noble and sublime way to finish. It sounds better than his earlier performance with the Berlin Philharmonic on EMI and I am yet to hear another performance by another conductor that comes close to capturing all that Bruckner puts into this work. Karajan has the structure and balance just right, as well as the tempo. The Vienna Philharmonic has never sounded so rich and sumptuous in their playing; the general tempo allows for the clear articulation of every note, and those who appreciate the strings will not be sorry: this is just the symphony for them....more info
A "farrewell" recording but not conducted that way Reviewers here treat this Bruckner Seventh, which was released posthumously after Karajan's death in 1989, as if it foreshadows his passing. But this isn't a slow or reflectively melancholy reading--in fact, the first movement is quicker (if only marginally) than any of Karajan's two previous recordings for EMI and DG, both with the Berlin Phil. By comparison, the Vienna Phil. sounds sweeter, never bombastic, incapable of a brash phrase. The recordidng sounds so alive and present that one could swear this was a live performance, but apparently it wasn't. In any case, the orchestra is more animated and fresher sounding than on Karajan's two previous readings.
The conductor always favored whispering pianissimos and thunderous, though controlled, fortissimos. Here those contrasts are reduced; the music tends to stay in an average range until a climactic swell is called for. This evenness of tone gives the music a flowing quality, which is enhanced by Karajan's refusal to use the start-and-stop phrasing so common with other conductors in Bruckner. The great slow movement is especially free and spontaneous, not at all funereal even if the composer was aware of Wagner's recent death. This memorial to his greatest hero is sublime rather than grieving.
With so many special qualities, it's hard not to declare that this is Karajan's greatest Bruckner Seventh recording. In terms of freshness and a singing line, only the live Giulini performance from London (on BBC Legends) comes close to it in my experience. Highly, highly recommended.
P.S. May, 2009 - for anyone who's interested, I've added a more detailed comparison among Karajan's three Bruckner Sevenths in the comments section....more info
Elegant yet revealing Karajan's last recording is one of his best latter-day discs. Recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic after his celebrated bustup with the BPO, it's an elegant yet often revealing reading of a work he considered one of his favourites. While Karajan could sometimes descend into mere slickness (particularly in his last decade), that's not the case here, and there's an air of intensity, particularly in the last two movements. The VPO plays with all their usual well-oiled precision. If you want intense spiritual struggle in your Bruckner symphonies, stick to Gunter Wand or Furtwangler; but if you want a spacious, highly intelligent yet unneurotic reading, try this....more info
Very difficult to surpass Besides this recording, I also own Chailly, Celibidache (Munich), Jochum (Dresden) and Solti (CSO, nla). The spirituality is much more intense than all the others. The acoustics of the Grosser Saal of Musikverein is superb (i.e. just resonant enough, not too reverberating). The response from Wiener Philharmoniker is precise (you can hear pp,p,mf,f,ff), their playing natural and idiomatic. The whole recording has been remastered with the so-called 'Original Bit Processing' and is very satisfying. In short, it brings out the greatness of Bruckner's arguably best composition to its fullest extent. Anyone who can afford this should acquire this....more info
Great orchestra Not so great a conductor. This 7th is for the casual Brucknerian at best. It's a good easy "ReadersDigest" version of a sublime work. If you need true inspiration and are willing and able to "understand" Bruckner - try the EMI/Celibidache/Munich or the DG/Furtwangler/Berlin Phil. True wizards of the very highest order....more info
BREATHTAKING BRUCKNER A viable and VERY inexpensive alternative is the late Georg Tintner's version with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on Naxos. It may come as a revelation to some that Tintner has done the whole symphonic cycle of Bruckner with various orchestras on Naxos and the results are consistently insightful and clear-headed. He gets results from the orchestras - New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, in addition to the Scots orchestra - that may not rival the quintessential exquisiteness of Karajan and the VPO but he is damn close. Investigating his cycle is rewarding, satisfying, and dirt cheap. This is a series not to be overlooked by the discriminating "Collector" and novice student of music alike....more info
GOLD INDEED ! Too bad I don't have six stars : it's worth it .It is the first time I hear all the sounds of this great symphony , and I must say I am socked by the reachness and the greatness of this recording !! Karajan made his final recording as if he knew he would meet Bruckner , and somehow this was intended as a gift . This is far more remarkable than other recordings of the 7th - even the one from 1971 on EMI with him and The Berlin Philharmonic . As far as I am concerned , The Vienna Philharmonic gave his best and probably there will never be something quit like this recording . The tempi are a little bit changed , regarding his '71 recording , but that makes the recording more interesting . The trumpet in the scherzo is absolutelly magnificent and by the way , I finally heard the flute in this movement : Karajan brings out the details of this symphony , something he missed to do with The Berlin Philharmonic . In the end , if you want a recording of the 7th , go out and buy this one !!!...more info
Bruckner made easy Karajan ended his recording career with this CD. It is difficult to avoid the easy cliches that come with this comment. I will just say that although Karajan was not one of my favorites, I am more than ready to admit that quite often he reached greatness, and this CD is one of those occasions. This is definitely the best 7th symphony of Bruckner that I have heard. The keen understanding that Karajan had of it, and the magical tool of the Wiener Philharmonic pretty much assures us that it will be a while until anybody comes up with a better interpretation. The 7th is reputedly the "easiest" symphony for the neophyte. I think that perhaps it is the less demanding of them, even the simplest. Too often it is played without much scope. Karajan here shows us that the 7th should not be taken for granted and that it speaks to the deeper recess of our soul as much as its companions. However he does not stop there and he shows us the sunnier aspects of the music of Bruckner, nowhere more apparent than in this work, except perhaps curiously in some passages of the 4th. I would say that the understanding of this balance by Karajan is what makes this recording so great....more info
Sterile Once more, the great imposter beguiles. Hiding behind the wonderful playing of the VPO, Karajan amply demonstrates how un-necessary he really is....more info
Karajan's finest Bruckner! The end of Herbert K's life brought a strange amount of discord. His health was very bad after falling off of a podium which broke his hip and there was an estrangement which set in between the Berlin Phil which sadly darkened the last years after all he did for this orchestra. That being said, the relationship which spawned again with the Vienna Philharmonic was a source of great music making...so that being said one can imagine how fine things were in Vienna in the late 80s with such conductors as Karajan, Giulini, and Abaddo making so many fine recordings in the Sofiensaal...to cap it off Bernstein was doing great Mahler in Vienna at that time as well!!
so...here we come to the last recording of Karajan's career. It is truly an awesome piece of music making with the Adagio as the high point...all of the wonder of this fine music is here plus the opulent phrasing which only the Vienna Phil can bestow on this music....as for price this recording at any price is worth having. Not since the like of Klemperer, Jochum and Knappersbusuch has such great Bruckner playing been heard...although I like Barenboim for different reasons his Bruckner is defintely not anywhere in this league...
so for true collectors of fine performances and Conducting this Karajan is a real must! ...more info
Karajan goes out with a bang This recording of Bruckner's Seventh Symphony was Maestro Karajan's very last recording. Karajan, of course related to Bruckner more than with any other composer, so what a great recording to go out with. This album is truly majestic. Karajan, like no other, is able to bring out the mystical aspects of Bruckner's symphonies that make them so unique. Though this isn't my favorite Bruckner symphony, this is definitely one of my favorite recordings of a Brucker symphony, second only to Karajan's famous recording of the Eighth. Karjan is able to bring forth great emotional intensity from the piece and all of it is recorded in superb digital sound. For fans of Bruckner or for a great introduction to his work, this disk is a must have. I recommend it whole heartedly. It's essential Bruckner and shows an elderly Karajan in top form....more info
Sublime! The very last Karajan recordings, like this one, and the last 3rd and 4th Brahms symphonies ( also first released in 1989 ), present a whole new Karajan. Not so ambitious of proving to everybody he's the very best, and not so technical-perfection minded anymore, Karajan lets the music speak for itself, without forcing any extra energy on it, and the result is sheer beauty, of the kind we rarely find in any kind of art work, something that really takes you to other worlds, with mountains of beauty and erupting emotions. And it's a totaly new kind of beauty, not usually found in Karajan's earlier recordings. This recording is invaluable for any music lover, and a must for any Karajan admirer....more info
Near-death serenity This symphony opens with one of the most gorgeous passages for cello ever written, and although I am not one to rave on and on about the Vienna Philharmonic, they deliver this magical beginning as well as I've ever heard it. Herbert von Karajan takes his time here, and the orchestra follows suit with a glorious, often magic performance. Although there is no single "right" approach to this music, I confess that I prefer my Bruckner to err slightly on the slow side. The composer's long phrases are so beautiful that it seems like a waste to rush through them, and I like conductors who can linger on the huge paragraphs (and orchestras with the technical prowess to support this approach).
In what would be his last recording, von Karajan seems to have found more quiet mystery here than usual (as in his final Bruckner Eighth, also with Vienna). This is a glowing, serene journey -- different from say, Georg Solti's slightly faster, and more intense version with Chicago. The sound quality is excellent, as well, even if to my ears not quite as ideal as for that Eighth.
As one of Bruckner's most popular works, the Seventh is well-preserved on disc, in a crowded cluster of memorable recordings from many eras. I also admire Christoph von Dohnanyi's beautiful version with the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra, and the aforementioned Solti gives me more pleasure than I might have thought at first. But this final von Karajan breath does seem to have a special aura....more info
Requiem for the Master In 1883, about 6 weeks before Wagner died, Anton Bruckner arrived at his home with a morose thought: the Master did not have long to live. Bruckner wrote that that the great Richard Wagner would soon rendevous with his grave "made me very sad". The emotions Bruckner experienced formed the impetus of the 2nd movement of his 7th symphony. The main theme is played by a quartet of Wagner tubas (Bruckner utilized Wagner tubas in each of his last 3 symphonies - 7,8 & 9). The coda was written during Wagner's last days & also shortly after his death. It is not a coincidence, I think, that it became such a somber adagio; one can hear just how deeply moved Bruckner was by the passing of his guiding force and mentor. It is, I believe, one of the most passionate and hauntingly beautiful pieces of music ever written.
This is the 2nd best recording of this symphony that I have heard. The #1 performance also belongs to the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Mario Carlo Giulini in the 1980's. Sadly, however, that Deutsche Grammophon recording is out of print. I used to have a Chicago Symphony Orchestra CD of this work conducted by Solti, but both the present and Guilini's performance blow that one out of the water.
As for technicalities, I did not like Karajan's tempo in the coda of the adagio; I thought it sounded a bit "rushed." A few other parts were a bit overly-dramtic when Bruckner would have liked a bit more subtelty The recording itself is digitally done & is quite remarkable. It is also the last CD Karajan made before he died. (kind of fitting, I think).
The motif of the first movement came to Bruckner in a dream; he got up in the middle of the night, lit a candle, wrote it down, then went back to bed. The scherzo is unremarkable. The 4th movement has some fine, majestic moments to close out the symphony. However, the #1 factor which makes this work so wonderful is the lyrical, stirring adagio. Get out & buy this CD, all you Wagner fans. This one is for the Master.....and you......more info
A Double Requiem On the subject of Bruckner's 7th Symphony, composed after Bruckner perceived the impending death of his hero Richard Wagner and indeed appropriating the very Wagner tubas into the score in the Adagio which was apparently directly inspired by Bruckner's encounter with Wagner, it would be a disservice to the recorded versions of this work not to include this CD which proved to be Herbert von Karajan's valedictory recording.
Though the actual performance with the Vienna Philharmonic is not fully uplifting or illuminating, it does suggest the obeisance many of the great conductors of the romantic repertoire had for Bruckner. There is a communication with the spirit of Bruckner that haunts this recording, and to make the complete circle of dealing with Brucker's mighty 7th, this recording deserves a careful hearing. Grady Harp, February 2005...more info
Good moments but... This was the only version I'd heard for a long time. This was THE one to own. I followed THE instructions like a good classical 101 listener and didn't bother to take chances. The other day I had the privilege to listen to the entire 7th on public radio. I was skeptical 'cause it was the Cleveland Orchestra/Christoph Von Dohnanyi. Since the recording of the 7th by von Karajan was his(Karajan's)last recording or something...I thought it was 'pose to be this awesome finale to his 'recordings'. Don't get me wrong...I got repeated rushes of pure God through this recording...but realized when I heard the Cleveland version that it could be done differently and sound terrrrrific. I actually recommend the version I mentioned and see for yourself. Byebye...more info