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Many here have expressed their preference for the BPO Karajan 8 over the WPO recording, so I'll go against the grain and say that the WPO recording may be one of the best things Karajan ever did and that the BPO version, while still excellent, doesn't entirely compare in my eyes.

Yes, the BPO version is a bit faster and has more aggression and forward momentum, that much is certain. But the WPO recording seems to not just be more capable of subtlety and restraint in many of the quieter sections of the music; it's definitely not more relaxed, because there is still a certain intensity throughout and in climaxes that the BPO recording seems to be slightly more loose about. The shaping of crescendos also seems more mature and refined with the WPO recording, like a less-is-more approach to exactly how the orchestra grows in intensity and volume. I also think the sound palette of the WPO is more suited for this work; the Vienna strings and horns just sound right for late Bruckner, which is probably why all my favorite recordings of the 7th, 8th and 9th all feature the WPO. Regardless, both are awesome recordings and Karajan was undeniably a true maestro with this symphony.
 
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