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Thread: Best and Worst Recordings: Karajan

  1. #301
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AfterHours View Post
    Im not big on Karajan's 6th but Im surprised to hear this sort of criticism of his 5th. His is perhaps the most intense 2nd movement ever. How it all holds together and is still so articulative is rather astonishing to me. Overall, Levine's is my favorite (the tension and phrasing throughout is stunning) but Karajan's isnt far behind (with Stenz, Barshai, Honeck, Mackerras and perhaps Barbirolli and Bernstein all right there as well)
    OK, I'll listen again and report back if I have changed my mind but must say there are a few of your comparison recordings that I also do not greatly care for.

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    Senior Member AfterHours's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    OK, I'll listen again and report back if I have changed my mind but must say there are a few of your comparison recordings that I also do not greatly care for.
    Regardless, no worries. I am not expecting you to change your mind on the Karajan. It was more that I was surprised the criticism would be about it being "lightweight", a subjective assessment that you're of course welcome to, but just doesn't seem plausible to me when comparing to the performance at hand.

    I try to keep a fairly varied selection of top choices for a particular work and don't expect you/anyone to agree with all of them.

    Among those, I often have one that is my absolute favorite, that is an extra special/powerful (etc) rendition of that work. It goes without saying that you're not allowed to disagree with those particular selections, lest you risk being wrong
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AfterHours View Post
    Im not big on Karajan's 6th but Im surprised to hear this sort of criticism of his 5th. His is perhaps the most intense 2nd movement ever. How it all holds together and is still so articulative is rather astonishing to me. Overall, Levine's is my favorite (the tension and phrasing throughout is stunning) but Karajan's isnt far behind (with Stenz, Barshai, Honeck, Mackerras and perhaps Barbirolli and Bernstein all right there as well)
    I think the typical criticism of Karajan's Mahler, particularly the 5th and 6th, is that it comes across more as stereotypical romanticism and doesn't bring out Mahler's unique modern contrapuntal style. I think there is something to that, although I enjoy the recordings nevertheless.

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  5. #304
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    I think the typical criticism of Karajan's Mahler, particularly the 5th and 6th, is that it comes across more as stereotypical romanticism and doesn't bring out Mahler's unique modern contrapuntal style. I think there is something to that, although I enjoy the recordings nevertheless.
    I think that is the point - we can enjoy the performances. unlike the people who insist that there is only one way to interpret music, I'm actually glad we can have a variety of interpretations. Variety is the spice of life!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AfterHours View Post
    Regardless, no worries. I am not expecting you to change your mind on the Karajan. It was more that I was surprised the criticism would be about it being "lightweight", a subjective assessment that you're of course welcome to, but just doesn't seem plausible to me when comparing to the performance at hand.

    I try to keep a fairly varied selection of top choices for a particular work and don't expect you/anyone to agree with all of them.

    Among those, I often have one that is my absolute favorite, that is an extra special/powerful (etc) rendition of that work. It goes without saying that you're not allowed to disagree with those particular selections, lest you risk being wrong
    OK, I have listened to Karajan's Mahler 5 now and you are sort of right - it is not so bad! Not like his 6th. I don't think it is great but it is more that acceptable and very well played. It is some time since I last listened to it. I did listen to his 6th recently and found I still disliked it and assumed that my opinion on the 5th wouldn't have changed much either. But it is fine. Now I have to listen to Barshai which many rate very highly but which I disliked (a lot) on the only two times I listened to it!

    Meanwhile, I have also listened to two Karajan recordings mentioned in this thread that I had not heard before. The Symphonie Fantastique is a good performance, with lots to like in it, but not a great one IMO (and there are quite a few great recordings around). I can't say I was very taken by Karajan's Scheherazade, though.

    I also have favourites for many pieces (usually more than one) and don't often change my mind about them. But I do find that I can change my mind about recordings that I didn't like when I first heard them. I suppose I don't listen so much to something that I didn't enjoy the first time.
    Last edited by Enthusiast; Oct-12-2019 at 18:27.

  7. #306
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    I think the typical criticism of Karajan's Mahler, particularly the 5th and 6th, is that it comes across more as stereotypical romanticism and doesn't bring out Mahler's unique modern contrapuntal style. I think there is something to that, although I enjoy the recordings nevertheless.
    I do think Karajan's Mahler 6 is lightweight but (see above) your criticism of his 5 might apply (as mine doesn't!) - certainly, it is not very distinctive - although I would not think there is only one way to play the work.

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    This thread is beating a dead horse, Karajan is second to none, he's the Coca Cola of conductors and that's all a conductor needs to be, because the art and genius--the very essence--is brought by the composer--it is already in the music.

    If we're being democratical just go to Asia where they have no bias, and you'll see how much they love him. People that dislike him do so because of politics: because he portrayed perfection and order. When he's surpassed it's because another great conductor put in the time with a piece that Karajan didn't have.

    His Schumann comes to mind, which isn't as good as Bernstein's, the latter being the only one that puts up a fight piece by piece.

    But as a whole he's as consistent and dominant as Coca Cola, across the board. To a point where if someone is new to classical musical, rather than recommend him a composer, recommend him Karajan, and that'll make it much easier on him.
    Last edited by 1996D; Oct-13-2019 at 18:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    This thread is beating a dead horse, Karajan is second to none, he's the Coca Cola of conductors and that's all a conductor needs to be, because the art and genius--the very essence--is brought by the composer--it is already in the music.

    If we're being democratical just go to Asia where they have no bias, and you'll see how much they love him. People that dislike him do so because of politics: because he portrayed perfection and order. When he's surpassed it's because another great conductor put in the time with a piece that Karajan didn't have.

    His Schumann comes to mind, which isn't as good as Bernstein's, the latter being the only one that puts up a fight piece by piece.

    But as a whole he's as consistent and dominant as Coca Cola, across the board. To a point where if someone is new to classical musical, rather than recommend him a composer, recommend him Karajan, and that'll make it much easier on him.
    I’m assuming this is a parody?

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    Member Phil in Magnolia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhdanov View Post
    Beethoven 9th live in Berlin philarmonie 1963 recording - one of the best ever and must be his best.



    Interesting - I have not heard of this recording or performance before. Karajan recorded the 9th again with the BPO, just a year after he had recorded it with them (usually referred to as his 1963 cycle, but recorded in 1961/1962)?

    The recording does not seem to be commercially available that I can find - it is not listed on the DG website and I find very few mentions of it online. It was the first performance at the new Berlin Philharmonie, so it would seem that DG would occasionally include it with one of their ubiquitous Karajan collections, but that doesn't seem to be the case?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    This thread is beating a dead horse, Karajan is second to none, he's the Coca Cola of conductors and that's all a conductor needs to be, because the art and genius.....
    Nonsense, HvK is second to everyone. His insistence on "one sound fits all" music becomes quickly tedious, and monotonous [monotone-ous]. not all music should sound round, smooth and "beautiful"
    If we're being democratical just go to Asia where they have no bias, and you'll see how much they love him.
    ??? Why would we ever accept some fictitious "Asian" preference as a standard??
    People that dislike him do because of politics.
    baloney....my lack of enthusiasm for vK has virtually nothing to do with politics...it has to do with musical performance.
    To a point where if someone is new to classical musical, rather than recommend him a composer, recommend him Karajan, and that'll make it much easier on him.
    oh brother!! there are so many finer conductors, so much great music, why would one want to limit one's self to such a degree??

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  15. #311
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Whenever Karajan is up against Barbirolli, who I feel is somewhat similar in string sound, I find Barbirolli wins it for me, like in Mahler, Sibelius, Strauss.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Nonsense, HvK is second to everyone. His insistence on "one sound fits all" music becomes quickly tedious, and monotonous [monotone-ous]. not all music should sound round, smooth and "beautiful"

    ??? Why would we ever accept some fictitious "Asian" preference as a standard??

    baloney....my lack of enthusiasm for vK has virtually nothing to do with politics...it has to do with musical performance.

    oh brother!! there are so many finer conductors, so much great music, why would one want to limit one's self to such a degree??
    I think "Second to everyone" is probably as silly a claim as "Second to none."

    Karajan has few peers when it comes to Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and R. Strauss; some peers when it comes to Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Schumann; and is outclassed by many conductors in Bach, Berlioz, Haydn, and Mahler.

    All conductors have their strengths and weaknesses, including Karajan. But to claim that somehow hundreds of millions of listeners over forty years were deluded by slick production values and advertising is just bosh.
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; Oct-14-2019 at 05:41.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    I think "Second to everyone" is probably as silly a claim as "Second to none."

    Karajan has few peers when it comes to Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and R. Strauss; some peers when it comes to Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Schumann; and is outclassed by many conductors in Bach, Berlioz, Haydn, and Mahler.

    All conductors have their strengths and weaknesses, including Karajan. But to claim that somehow hundreds of millions of listeners over forty years were deluded by slick production values and advertising is just bosh.
    That particular gentleman churns out his standard criticism of Karajan as ‘second to everyone’. That is why ‘everyone’ appeared to buy his recordings. It really is hilarious!

  18. #314
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    I think "Second to everyone" is probably as silly a claim as "Second to none."
    not for me, HvK is not my first choice for any composer I can think of....

    Karajan has few peers when it comes to Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and R. Strauss;
    Many conductors do a far more satisfying job with these composers

    ...to claim that somehow hundreds of millions of listeners over forty years were deluded by slick production values and advertising is just bosh.
    Karajan's productions are always slick, smooth, sound "beautiful", heavily processed....and many people find this attractive. but the slick, smooth, round, "beautiful" approach does not apply to all music, or to all parts of music...there are far more interesting conductors to explore.

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  20. #315
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    That particular gentleman churns out his standard criticism of Karajan as ‘second to everyone’. That is why ‘everyone’ appeared to buy his recordings. It really is hilarious!
    no doubt, many people are attracted to Karajan's slick, smooth, round approach....and his recordings always "sound" good as far as recording and processing. there are just so many better versions available as far as musical interest, interpretation and imaginative presentation...
    I was taking issue with the silly comment that HvK was "second to none", and that newcomers to music should just forgo any exploration, and just bathe themselves in Karajan's overly processed, suppressed packaging and "one sound fits all" monotony...

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