Herbert von Karajan - Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 7 & 8


Deutsche Grammophon



Product No.:
CDGR 474604 SA

Hybrid Stereo SACD

Hybrid Stereo SACD

There is a case for saying that Beethoven’s Seventh (1811-12) is the most remarkable symphony ever written, an elemental outpouring which, in Sir Donald Tovey’s word, is "untranslatable." Other symphonies exist as art-works; the Seventh simply is. The key to the symphony is its unflagging rhythmic life. For Wagner it was "the apotheosis of the dance," a description which brilliantly encapsulates its obsessive rhythmic drive. Rhythm is not, however, the work’s only remarkable feature. Harmonically it is built on a massive scale with two key centres - C and F, both strategically remote from the tonic A - providing an architectural strength which is every bit as imposing as its rhythmic one.

Beethoven referred to the Eighth Symphony, finished shortly after the Seventh, as his "little" symphony. It was a joke, of course. At 503 bars, the finale is the longest he had yet written. There are two routes through this monster. Either the conductor plays safe and sees before him an exposition, two developments, two recapitulations and a coda; or he concedes, as Karajan does, that the tail really is wagging the crocodile and that the starting-point of the movement’s vast coda is midway through the movement at bar 282.

Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92
Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Presto - Assai meno presto
Allegro con brio

Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93
Allegro vivace e con brio
Allegretto scherzando
Tempo di menuetto
Allegro vivace

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