Review by Amfibius May 30, 2011 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
|There are two versions of Carlos Kleiber's Beethoven 7 on SACD. The first is this one, on DGG with the Vienna Philharmonic. The other is on Orfeo with the Bavarian State Orchestra (a live recording). Given that I am somewhat of a Kleiber fan, I also have this exact same disc on RBCD.
If you are looking for the best sound and best performance of the Beethoven 7, there is no question which disc you should get - the "other" Kleiber on Orfeo. Both performances feature Kleiber's trademark lyricism and propulsion, but the other performance simply has more sizzle. Kleiber starts the last movement at a ridiculous pace - quite often you wonder how he is going to keep it together AND play the accelerando at the end - but the superior discipline and musicianship of the Bavarian SO shines through.
This performance is taken at a more leisurely pace than the Orfeo disc, but "leisurely" is relative. He is faster than Karajan, faster than Toscanini, and faster than Furtwangler. Kleiber's 7th sounds like a celebration, as opposed to Karajan's more deliberate reading and Toscanini's dynamics.
A word about the recording. This recording was made in the 1970's in front of a live audience. DGG recordings of the period were (for some reason) noticably bad. It is dry sounding, compressed, and muffled. For many years I was not sure whether it was the analogue master which was bad, or poor mastering on the RBCD.
Now that I have bought my SACD, on a new remaster taken from the analogue original, I have my answer: it was the analogue master which was bad. The SACD does sound superior to the RBCD - it delivers a fuller sound, sounds less dry, and has more instrumental texture to boot. But it is still muffled, and nowhere near the quality of the Orfeo recording. If you are used to modern SACD recordings on DSD (e.g. Pentatone) the sound will come as an immense disappointment.
Sum-up: worth having but buy the other recording on Orfeo if you can find it.
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