Ever wonder why Beethoven was der Fuhrer's favorite composer? Then these recordings are for you. I am normally against dragging the politics of an artist into a discussion of his work. But Karajan's reported 11 years of active membership in the Nazi party really seem to have been a major influence on his musical aesthetic. These recordings present a Beethoven of unrelieved aggression and inhuman discipline. Tempos are fast, dynamics tend towards the loud and anything approaching a march rhythm is goose-stepped. The unanimity of the Berlin Philharmonic is technically amazing (and somewhat frightening). One never gets the sense of an individual musician playing an instrument. Everyone is just a cog in the absolutely perfect Karajan Machine. But aside from aggressiveness, the music is barely characterized. Beethoven's poetics? Nonexistent. It's no wonder that the Sixth is an utterly ludicrous failure. It's one thing to take a walk in the Polish countryside, quite another to stage a military invasion.
Seasoned music geeks of course know this is ridiculously false: Hitler's favorite composer was Christopher Cross (as evidenced by the infamous Braun mixtape).