View Poll Results: Karajan - Hero or Hype?

Voters
77. You may not vote on this poll
  • Hero

    50 64.94%
  • Hype

    27 35.06%
Page 4 of 12 FirstFirst 12345678 ... LastLast
Results 46 to 60 of 180

Thread: Karajan - Hero or Hype?

  1. #46
    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    La Mesa, CA
    Posts
    2,730
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chi_townPhilly View Post
    Well, Karajan's on my short-list, as I already revealed
    [jeez, is it really] nearly four years ago, way back here!Okay, I'll buy that- but keep in mind that many of those recordings were made in the Philharmonie-- that couldn't have helped.

    The "hit or miss" metaphor has been used already- but the (to my mind, relatively few) Karajan 'misses' are a hot mess. The weirdly idiosyncratic final digital Beethoven cycle, for instance. (To me, most infamously)- how can someone's Mozart symphonies be so sound, and his Haydn symphonies be so willfully bizarre?!

    I don't want that carp to be my last word on Karajan. My CD collection would be a poorer place without him.

    [P.S. Moving thread to "Conductors & Conducting."]
    I know that I am in the minority here, but I am a fan of his digital Beethoven. His digital 9th Symphony is my favorite recording of the work.

    Can someone PLEASE explain to me why these recordings are so maligned? What am I missing?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

  2. Likes samurai liked this post
  3. #47
    Senior Member itywltmt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    583
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    330

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by moody View Post
    I am astonished to note the five conductors youlist as elder statesmen of the craft in many ways equal to your great conductors of an earlier era. They are mediocre performers of no great distinction , especially Mehta and Muti. Incidentally, what history has shown this to be true ?
    Clearly, this is a matter of personal taste...

    I happen to hold Mehta in high regard, though I would agree that his career from his NYP tenure on has more questionable moments to it... his Beethiven cycle with the NYPO is forgettable, but his work in the 1960's in Montreal and LA had stood the test of time.

    As for Muti, I feel his early EMI recordings and Philadelphia years have provided us with great moments: his Brahms and Tchaikovsky cycles are "up there". I understand his legacy is somewhat tainted from the latter part of his Scala tenure, however.

  4. #48
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY.
    Posts
    1,820
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Few conductors of the 20th century have divided critics and fans as much as Karajan .
    He had an enormous number of admirers in concert halls everywhere who also collected his countless recordings avidly , but more than a few prominent music critics and others
    positively loathed his conducting .
    In addition , his controversial membership in the Nazi party in his early years ( a mere formality and not the result of malice or anti-semitism ) , and his imperious personality and glamorous personal life aroused the ire of many . Much of the animus seems to have been caused by these controversies .
    Yes, Karajan had a huge ego and was imperious . But this has been true of virtually every eminent conductor . A modest conductor is an oxymoron ! Ego goes with the profession ..
    But he was unquestionably a very great conductor and his talent and musicianship were formidable . Yes, he had a glamorous public image , but he was enormously gifted and hard-working , and no mere shallow glamor boy .
    Of course , there has never been a perfect conductor , nor will there ever be .
    Karajan was a fallible as any of them , but he gave many performances and left many recordings which can stand comparison with those of any of the greatest podium figures . His recorded legacy contains many superlative things , and he was at home in a wide repertoire ranging from Bach ,Haydn,Mozart and Beethoven to
    Prokofiev, Shostakovich , Hindemith and other great 20th century composers .
    He was also one of the greatest opera conductors of all time , renowned for Mozart , Wagner, Richard Strauss , Verdi and Puccini .
    His recordings of Italian opera were often revelatory , and brought fresh insights into operas by Verdi and Puccini which had too often reserved for hack routinier Italian conductors giving their umpteenth hum drum performance of these familiar
    war horses by Verdi and Puccini .
    Like his conducting or not , Karajan is a conductor who cannot be dismissed lightly !

  5. Likes itywltmt, Tapkaara liked this post
  6. #49
    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    4,666
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by superhorn View Post
    Few conductors of the 20th century have divided critics and fans as much as Karajan .
    He had an enormous number of admirers in concert halls everywhere who also collected his countless recordings avidly , but more than a few prominent music critics and others
    positively loathed his conducting .
    In addition , his controversial membership in the Nazi party in his early years ( a mere formality and not the result of malice or anti-semitism ) , and his imperious personality and glamorous personal life aroused the ire of many . Much of the animus seems to have been caused by these controversies .
    Yes, Karajan had a huge ego and was imperious . But this has been true of virtually every eminent conductor . A modest conductor is an oxymoron ! Ego goes with the profession ..
    But he was unquestionably a very great conductor and his talent and musicianship were formidable . Yes, he had a glamorous public image , but he was enormously gifted and hard-working , and no mere shallow glamor boy .
    Of course , there has never been a perfect conductor , nor will there ever be .
    Karajan was a fallible as any of them , but he gave many performances and left many recordings which can stand comparison with those of any of the greatest podium figures . His recorded legacy contains many superlative things , and he was at home in a wide repertoire ranging from Bach ,Haydn,Mozart and Beethoven to
    Prokofiev, Shostakovich , Hindemith and other great 20th century composers .
    He was also one of the greatest opera conductors of all time , renowned for Mozart , Wagner, Richard Strauss , Verdi and Puccini .
    His recordings of Italian opera were often revelatory , and brought fresh insights into operas by Verdi and Puccini which had too often reserved for hack routinier Italian conductors giving their umpteenth hum drum performance of these familiar
    war horses by Verdi and Puccini .
    Like his conducting or not , Karajan is a conductor who cannot be dismissed lightly !
    So that's it then is it ? Well I don't think he was unquestionably a great conductor and out of my 7000 recordings none are by him . I bought his first box of the Beethoven symphonies and thought it was fairly lifeless, but will agree that his operatic stuff is reasonable. By the way who were the hack conductors, De Sabata, Giulini, Toscanini,Tullio Serafin ? I think he was a reasonable conductor who was fairly uninteresting and you can have him. By the way , all in all he does sound fairly unpleasant---look what he did to Der Kna.

  7. #50
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    9,728
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    My conclusion was the same as Delicious Manager above, but for different reasons.

    We may be in the minority here, but if you go out to the wider world, talk to classical listeners, many of them have mixed feelings about von Karajan, and a number of them hate him to the max, or hate what he did with many of their favourite pieces. & to a lot of the younger generation today, he is basically old hat, a dinosaur, an anachronism, irrelevant. Or they don't know him much or his work, which I don't really think is bad, there are lots of excellent conductors out there today doing great work, and not just doing the warhorses we've heard zillions of times, but less travelled repertoire, old and new.

    But across the board, he is more revered generally for his performances of opera than concert hall things. That is where he shined, but again, he mainly worked with music of the old school or simply old music, he was definitely not a man of his time in terms of repertoire. Even Zubin Mehta, mentioned above, I was just listening to his world premiere recording of Ravi Shankar's Sitar Concerto #2 made in 1982. Even conservatives like Mehta do stuff like that, do some new music, but it seems von Karajan was mainly into promoting various conservative agendas, which have little relevance to me, a person living in 2011, not 1911 or something...

  8. Likes Delicious Manager liked this post
  9. #51
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    14,038
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hvk gets many bad raps, some of which are warranted. But many are not. Such as, encouraging and helping young musicians get started in their professional careers, starting a research institute for experimental music psychology, and yes, promoting "new music" through concerts and recordings.

    Many of these sound "new' to me--Berg, Berger, Wimberger, Schmitt, Leimer, Azzaiolo, Bennett, Ebel, Flowtow, Fortner, Francaix, Gallus, Ghedini, Gohler, Henderson, Hilber, Holler, Hindemith, Honegger, Jerger, Knaak, Kodaly, Lortzing, Matsudaira, Nono, Penderecki, Martin, Martinu, Rasch, Shroder, Unger, Viski, Voss, Webern, Wladigueroff, Yourman, etc., etc.
    Last edited by Vaneyes; Dec-01-2011 at 00:19.

  10. #52
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,494
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    I have several thousands of LPs and CDs collected over more then 40 years. I have, say 2 or 3 Karajan recordings and that's all. Why? Because I don't 'believe' him as a musician. His interpretations are too 'perfect', too glossy, too smooth. His recording of Holst's The Planets makes Mars, the Bringer of War sound like Mars, the bringer of no good to young girls in dark alleyways and his Rite of Spring has about as much pagan brutality as a ballerina. My belief (and I know I'm in a minority here) is that Karajan largely duped audiences by fooling them into thinking that the pristine, technicolour sounds he got from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra were somehow what an orchestra is supposed to sound like. I never fell for it; I was always suspicious of music that sounded so sanitised and note-perfect.

    Ah... so the rest of us who have more than a few Karajan recordings are just a bunch of dupes fooled by the hype into believing that there was something there when low and behold (how blind... or rather deaf of us) it was just a bunch of gimmickry. Personally, I've always had to laugh at the criticism of something as sounding "too perfect". So if Karajan had just thrown in a couple of big flubs... a missed note here and there... he'd be so much more "human" and "feeling". One of my favorite painters is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Ingres often spent years perfecting a single painting. The resulting works (when seen in person) glow with an intensity that is not to be believed... as if they were made of liquid gemstones. Last year I took my older daughter to a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When she happened upon this painting she was absolutely dumbfounded... in spite of her lack of any formal art background.



    Of course there are those who have a limited idea of art who complain that Ingres is "too perfect"... that his work is cold... or emotionless. These people are often shocked to discover that Pablo Picasso and William DeKooning absolutely revered Ingres. They recognized that an absolute polished perfection is not emotionless... but rather it conveys a different sort of emotion for the loose "expressive" work.

    As an art lover, I enjoy the freedom to embrace both Ingres and Matisse...



    As a music lover I am absolutely enthralled by the icy perfection... and the icy eroticism of Karajan's Tristan und Isolde... and yet I can also appreciate the looser approach of Furtwangler and the tenuous nature of an orchestra that at times seems as if it were about to slip out of control. Looking at two stellar conductors of Bach I find that I admire Suzuki's absolute perfection and transparency of sound... but I also love Gardiner's more muscular and dramatic take (to say nothing of Jordi Savall).

  11. Likes Vaneyes, tdc, Conor71 and 1 others liked this post
  12. #53
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    14,038
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Thank you SLGO, those colors are staggeringly beautiful.

  13. Likes tdc liked this post
  14. #54
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    9,728
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by StlukesguildOhio View Post
    ...Looking at two stellar conductors of Bach I find that I admire Suzuki's absolute perfection and transparency of sound... but I also love Gardiner's more muscular and dramatic take (to say nothing of Jordi Savall).
    Yeah, that's okay, but both of them are faithful to Bach's vision. Unlike a lot of what von Karajan did, which is give us more of himself than the composer. He's like someone I know says of Miles Davis, he just changes the setting of his muted trumpet, but it's just a different setting, that's it, the change is superficial. Whatever he does inevitably becomes boring and tiresome. As with von Karajan, some of his critics here are saying similar thing in different way. What I'm saying is that he gives us HIMSELF not the composer, it's all about HIM, or mainly. I have given such examples above, & there are many others. It's not really about different interpretations, it's about him giving the listener the wrong impression. As he gave me of Schoenberg, it was really a downer, I stereotyped Schoenberg the wrong way for a decade or more. But I won't fixate on that, just giving that as an example. History and newer, better performances of a good deal of the repertoire von Karajan recorded has shown, but even by many of his contemporaries, that you have to give credit to the composer's vision first (which can be flexibly interpreted of course, but there are lines to be drawn) & your ego comes last. But I don't think von Karajan knew the difference, at least a good amount of the time...
    Last edited by Sid James; Dec-01-2011 at 00:29.

  15. #55
    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    La Mesa, CA
    Posts
    2,730
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by StlukesguildOhio View Post
    I have several thousands of LPs and CDs collected over more then 40 years. I have, say 2 or 3 Karajan recordings and that's all. Why? Because I don't 'believe' him as a musician. His interpretations are too 'perfect', too glossy, too smooth. His recording of Holst's The Planets makes Mars, the Bringer of War sound like Mars, the bringer of no good to young girls in dark alleyways and his Rite of Spring has about as much pagan brutality as a ballerina. My belief (and I know I'm in a minority here) is that Karajan largely duped audiences by fooling them into thinking that the pristine, technicolour sounds he got from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra were somehow what an orchestra is supposed to sound like. I never fell for it; I was always suspicious of music that sounded so sanitised and note-perfect.

    Ah... so the rest of us who have more than a few Karajan recordings are just a bunch of dupes fooled by the hype into believing that there was something there when low and behold (how blind... or rather deaf of us) it was just a bunch of gimmickry. Personally, I've always had to laugh at the criticism of something as sounding "too perfect". So if Karajan had just thrown in a couple of big flubs... a missed note here and there... he'd be so much more "human" and "feeling". One of my favorite painters is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Ingres often spent years perfecting a single painting. The resulting works (when seen in person) glow with an intensity that is not to be believed... as if they were made of liquid gemstones. Last year I took my older daughter to a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When she happened upon this painting she was absolutely dumbfounded... in spite of her lack of any formal art background.



    Of course there are those who have a limited idea of art who complain that Ingres is "too perfect"... that his work is cold... or emotionless. These people are often shocked to discover that Pablo Picasso and William DeKooning absolutely revered Ingres. They recognized that an absolute polished perfection is not emotionless... but rather it conveys a different sort of emotion for the loose "expressive" work.

    As an art lover, I enjoy the freedom to embrace both Ingres and Matisse...



    As a music lover I am absolutely enthralled by the icy perfection... and the icy eroticism of Karajan's Tristan und Isolde... and yet I can also appreciate the looser approach of Furtwangler and the tenuous nature of an orchestra that at times seems as if it were about to slip out of control. Looking at two stellar conductors of Bach I find that I admire Suzuki's absolute perfection and transparency of sound... but I also love Gardiner's more muscular and dramatic take (to say nothing of Jordi Savall).
    The fabric on that dress look slike a photograph!!! Incredible.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

  16. Likes samurai, tdc liked this post
  17. #56
    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    25 Brook Street, Mayfair
    Posts
    3,516
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    That's an incredible Victorian painting (lady in blue). I love it.

  18. Likes tdc liked this post
  19. #57
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,494
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    Hvk gets many bad raps, some of which are warranted. But many are not. Such as, encouraging and helping young musicians get started in their professional careers, starting a research institute for experimental music psychology, and yes, promoting "new music" through concerts and recordings.

    Many of these sound "new' to me--Berg, Berger, Wimberger, Schmitt, Leimer, Azzaiolo, Bennett, Ebel, Flowtow, Fortner, Francaix, Gallus, Ghedini, Gohler, Henderson, Hilber, Holler, Hindemith, Honegger, Jerger, Knaak, Kodaly, Lortzing, Matsudaira, Nono, Penderecki, Martin, Martinu, Rasch, Shroder, Unger, Viski, Voss, Webern, Wladigueroff, Yourman, etc., etc.


    He also doesn't get the credit he deserves for his support for the development of digital technology as well as that of women in the male-dominated classical music scene. He put his own career on the line threatening to step down from the Berlin Philharmonic after they rejected Sabine Meyer for clarinet. Karajan was also a major supporter of the violinist, Anne Sophie-Mutter from the start of her career.

  20. Likes Vaneyes liked this post
  21. #58
    Senior Member opus55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    3,312
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Ingres painting: the dress looks so real, it's unreal!

  22. #59
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Gödel in Space
    Posts
    726
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Everyone is praising the Ingres painting, and for good reason! It is an unbelievable beauty!

  23. #60
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,494
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    We may be in the minority here, but if you go out to the wider world, talk to classical listeners, many of them have mixed feelings about von Karajan...

    That might be something of a universal rule for any musician. In a recent discussion here on Solti there were more than a few dismissive and disparaging comments. There are those who can't stand Gardiner, Rattle, Gergiev, Suzuki, etc... The same is true of solists and singers. For all of her acknowledged abilities... and they were certainly formidable... I have never really warmed to Joan Sutherland as much as I love opera. Others cannot stand Callas, who I love.

    a number of them hate him to the max, or hate what he did with many of their favourite pieces.

    This seems a bit of an exaggeration to say the least. I have some older versions of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, Handel's Water Music, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons that I found rather bland... to the point that they rather turned me off the works in question... until I came across some masterful recordings by Jordi Savall, Masaaki Suzuki, Rinaldo Alessandrini, etc... Still I don't find myself "hating" those conductors. In some instances they are composers by whom I have other recordings I quite admire. Every composer will have those real flops, and ever composer... or musician will have that repertoire that just isn't his or her strong point. Just because I prefer a newer HIP recording of Handel doesn't mean that Beecham set out to sabotage Handel and ruin him for all time with his notorious recording of the Messiah.

    Just because you prefer a stripped-down Schoenberg to Karajan's interpretation... in which the conductor recognized the composer's link with the earlier Viennese tradition as found in Strauss, Mahler, and Wagner doesn't mean that Karajan was out to destroy Schoenberg. It simply means you have a difference of vision concerning a given composer. I have admitted to having long struggled with Brahms' symphonies. I have heard Bohm, Walter, Karajan, and others but was always left feeling that the works were too dense. Gardiner's recent recordings have opened these works up to me... making them more fluid and transparent... but I'm not about to go about harping about how bad Walter or Bohm or Karajan are because their interpretations of Brahms didn't work for me.

    to a lot of the younger generation today, he is basically old hat, a dinosaur, an anachronism, irrelevant. Or they don't know him much or his work

    Can you really speak for the "younger generation"? Looking at any number of polls (from critics and the public) it seems that Karajan is in no way considered old hat, a dinosaur, or forgotten. From a BBC Maestro poll of classical listeners of 10 conductors including Arturo Toscanini, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Herbert von Karajan, Sir Georg Solti, Leonard Bernstein, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Marin Alsop
    and Gustavo Dudame, Karajan came in second place with just over 20% of the vote... just behind Simon Rattle... Karajan's heir as the director of the Berlin Philharmonic. A Dutch site places Karajan at the top of it's list of the 100 greatest conductors of all time, and in the recent BBC poll, discussed here at TC on another thread, Karajan came in fourth on a list of conductors who were most inspirational to the current crop of conductors, including asked leading conductors including Sir Colin Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev and Mariss Jansons.

    All of this proves suggests that Karajan might not be as forgotten or as "old hat" or forgotten as you suggest... especially considering the opinions of current conductors who might just know something about what is and isn't hype as opposed to real merit as a conductor. No, this doesn't prove Karajan is the greatest or is without flaws... and I have never suggested as much. Nor does it mean that you or anyone else should or must like him. We like what we like. But are we to immediately assume that because we dislike something it is inherently bad?

    there are lots of excellent conductors out there today doing great work, and not just doing the warhorses we've heard zillions of times, but less travelled repertoire, old and new.

    Of course there are... and I'm glad of it. But this is almost out of necessity, isn't it? As a conductor can I really imagine that I can bring something new to Beethoven's 5th that hasn't already been achieved by Kleiber or Toscanini or Reiner or Karajan or Bernstein or Bohm or Cluytens? If I'm smart I'm going to explore a lot of repertoire that hasn't already been beautifully recorded by numerous others.

    But across the board, he is more revered generally for his performances of opera than concert hall things. That is where he shined, but again, he mainly worked with music of the old school or simply old music, he was definitely not a man of his time in terms of repertoire.

    Even if I agreed, and I have already sited the numerous examples of Modern/Contemporary composers Karajan recorded, I don't see the criticism as at all relevant to his merit as a conductor. William Christie, John Eliot Gardiner, Jordi Savall, Trevor Pinnock, Sir Neville Marriner, Philippe Herreweghe, Ton Koopman, and Valery Gergiev are all recognized as masterful conductors... in spite of the fact that none of them has ever (to the best of my knowledge) conducted a contemporary composer. If anything is "old hat" is is the old notion of the universal conductor who is equally adept in Bach, Mozart, Wagner, Stravinsky, and Phillip Glass. Karajan largely specialized in the Austro-German Romantic/Post-Romantic tradition. He broke outside of this from time to time... sometimes successfully as with his Puccini recordings and his Shostakovitch 10th... and other times not so successfully. I wouldn't even think of turning to Karajan for Debussy or Ravel.

    it seems von Karajan was mainly into promoting various conservative agendas

    So Ton Koopman, Rene Jacobs, William Christie, John Eliot Gardiner, Jordi Savall, Trevor Pinnock, Sir Neville Marriner, Philippe Herreweghe, the Anonymous 4, Sequentia, Apollo's Fire, etc... are all about promoting various conservative agendas... or are they simply about promoting the music that they love and excel in performing?

  24. Likes HarpsichordConcerto liked this post
Page 4 of 12 FirstFirst 12345678 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. What pieces do or do not live up to their hype?
    By Weston in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 149
    Last Post: Apr-17-2012, 05:57
  2. Hip or Hype: Chillwave vs Dubstep
    By Argus in forum Non-Classical Music
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: Aug-13-2011, 17:27
  3. Replies: 2
    Last Post: Apr-11-2011, 20:04
  4. Karajan
    By Steve Gould in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: Aug-10-2009, 02:36
  5. Guitar Hero - I hate that game
    By WalterJ in forum Non-Classical Music
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: Apr-05-2009, 23:57

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •