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Thread: Best and Worst Recordings: Karajan

  1. #46
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Here's a truly awful recording. At least Dorati and Ormandy sound like they're having fun with it (Wellington's Victory, not Egmont, that's pretty decent):

    Attachment 121393

    The Concerto for Orchestra here is a bit too smooth for my tastes. The later EMI one was better!

    Attachment 121394

    The Music for Strings ain't bad, though, also available here: his Rite may have been awful, but his Apollo is lovely and loving.

    Attachment 121395
    Music for strings also available on an earlier EMI

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  3. #47
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    So entertaining to see my favorite Karajan recordings cites as "worst." Everything is "too smooth." Going better than expected for a thread like this, I guess.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Music for strings also available on an earlier EMI
    Indeed! The 1949 recording. And a later, 1974 one too!

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    I don't know about best, but other than the obvious (his 1963 Beethoven cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic), some recordings I really like include:

    - Sibelius Tapiola, Finlandia, Swan of Tuonela
    - Mahler Rückert-Lieder with Christa Ludwig
    - Dvorak 9th with Vienna Philharmonic
    - Webern Passacaglia, 5 Pieces, 6 Pieces, Symphony (the CD that got me into Webern )
    - Brahms 3rd (not a piece that I really like, but he does a good job with it I think)
    - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Anne-Sophie Mutter

    I just listened to some of his Bruckner 8th with the Vienna Philharmonic on the drive home from work. Damn good! And I don't even like Bruckner. Guess who's going to look into more of Karajan's Bruckner. He is not my favorite conductor, but sometimes, he is really good at illustrating what certain pieces are all about, melodically, thematically, etc. He makes the music really easy to follow along with. I think he is underrated in today's highly anti-Karajan classical climate.

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    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I don't know about best, but other than the obvious (his 1963 Beethoven cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic), some recordings I really like include:

    - Sibelius Tapiola, Finlandia, Swan of Tuonela
    - Mahler Rückert-Lieder with Christa Ludwig
    - Dvorak 9th with Vienna Philharmonic
    - Webern Passacaglia, 5 Pieces, 6 Pieces, Symphony (the CD that got me into Webern )
    - Brahms 3rd (not a piece that I really like, but he does a good job with it I think)
    - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Anne-Sophie Mutter

    I just listened to some of his Bruckner 8th with the Vienna Philharmonic on the drive home from work. Damn good! And I don't even like Bruckner. Guess who's going to look into more of Karajan's Bruckner. He is not my favorite conductor, but sometimes, he is really good at illustrating what certain pieces are all about, melodically, thematically, etc. He makes the music really easy to follow along with. I think he is underrated in today's highly anti-Karajan classical climate.
    The Dvorak and Mendelssohn recordings are indeed stellar. I had to winnow things down, but those two are in heavy rotation for me.

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    I happen to be a big fan of his Rite of Spring, not the 60s one that Stravinsky hated but the 70s remake, which he probably would have hated even more. A different take on the piece which I thought adds depth.

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    I happen to be a big fan of his Rite of Spring, not the 60s one that Stravinsky hated but the 70s remake, which he probably would have hated even more. A different take on the piece which I thought adds depth.
    Just the opposite of my experience.

    Take the "best" and "worst" and reverse it and it will turn out to be someone else's "best" and "worst."

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  12. #53
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    https://www.classicstoday.com/review...set-revisited/

    This review is in agreement with my assessment of his 70s Beethoven cycle, and also does a good job describing the knee jerk anti - Karajan sentiment that followed his death (which the author shared).

  13. #54
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    https://www.classicstoday.com/review...set-revisited/

    This review is in agreement with my assessment of his 70s Beethoven cycle, and also does a good job describing the knee jerk anti - Karajan sentiment that followed his death (which the author shared).
    It was quite hilarious how weak-minded critics suddenly felt they could say what they liked and unleashed peals of vitriol at Karajan, blaming him from everything from the demise of the recording industry to the start of the second world war. I can remember one particular idiot going on about Solti taking over Verdi's Ballo from Karajan at Saltzburg and saying "It was the hardest thing in my career," and interpreting that to mean that it was because he was taking over from such a bad conductor. Actually if you read Solti's memoirs he considered Karajan a conductor of genius (although never close to him) and the actually reason he was reluctant to take over Ballo was because he hadn't conducted it for so many years. But it could have been called the 'critics revenge' on someone who was far too successful for their liking.

  14. #55
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    I happen to be a big fan of his Rite of Spring, not the 60s one that Stravinsky hated but the 70s remake, which he probably would have hated even more. A different take on the piece which I thought adds depth.
    It's not like you to prefer a newer recording !!

    I will confess I know Karajan's Rite only by reputation, obviously from the composer's generous assessment. Not doubt the two as musicians were the antithesis of each other. But the only reason we know "right from wrong" with Stravinsky is the huge self-recorded legacy he left. Do we have Beethoven's word on the rights and wrongs of his music?

    So why not "lush up" Stravinsky? Karajan's Apollo is a very fine recording. And not long ago I heard a gorgeous Symphony of Psalms on the radio. It was Karajan!

    I will confess to having no issues with HvK. I don't like the recordings I posted. But I do like dozens of others, including his Mahler, his Bruckner, his Beethoven (I prefer his 1970s cycle) and - shock/horror! His Second Viennese School.

    Just there are very few out and out favourites from him....
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Jul-16-2019 at 09:00.

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    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    My usual suspects memorable HvK issues are his 80's recordings (Mahler 9 live, Bruckner 7 & 8 with VPO), which sound as if the bottles of HvK sauce were finally empty and he decided to just make intense music. I also love the Meistersinger on EMI with Schwarzkopf. Then I have the 2nd Viennese school set, because HvK makes them sound as a logical successor to the late romantic period. And his 60's B&B (Brahms 2-3 and Beethoven cycle). I have a happy childhood memory of Tchaikovsky's 1st concerto with Richter. And Bartok's Music for strings, percussion and celesta, as it was in the soundtrack of the Shining (snowy maze scene) and attracted my attention for it's 'magnetic' playing, the versions I knew would not have had the same effect.

    I am not enough aware of his other EMI opera recordings.

    It would have saved the planet a lot of vinyl and plastic if HvK would have had the same self critical attitude as Carlos Kleiber. The efficiency of HvK's output is quite low, only a few of his recordings are essential.
    Last edited by NLAdriaan; Jul-16-2019 at 15:25.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Sublime performance of a sublime symphony.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jul-16-2019 at 11:40.
    "That's all Folks!"

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  19. #58
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    Don't know if it has been mentioned yet, but Karajan's greatest recording, studio or live, is this one IMO:


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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I don't know about best, but other than the obvious (his 1963 Beethoven cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic), some recordings I really like include:

    - Sibelius Tapiola, Finlandia, Swan of Tuonela
    - Mahler Rückert-Lieder with Christa Ludwig
    - Dvorak 9th with Vienna Philharmonic
    - Webern Passacaglia, 5 Pieces, 6 Pieces, Symphony (the CD that got me into Webern )
    - Brahms 3rd (not a piece that I really like, but he does a good job with it I think)
    - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Anne-Sophie Mutter

    I just listened to some of his Bruckner 8th with the Vienna Philharmonic on the drive home from work. Damn good! And I don't even like Bruckner. Guess who's going to look into more of Karajan's Bruckner. He is not my favorite conductor, but sometimes, he is really good at illustrating what certain pieces are all about, melodically, thematically, etc. He makes the music really easy to follow along with. I think he is underrated in today's highly anti-Karajan classical climate.
    I just did a search in my files, lists I have been revising for decades, and these are the Karajan versions of works I have classified as the most definitive:

    Balakirev, Symphony No. 1
    Berg, Lyric suite, 3 pieces for orchestra
    Chopin, Les Sylphides
    Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor (w/Callas)
    Grieg, Holberg suite
    Honegger, Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3
    Humperdinck, Hansel und Gretel
    Mozart, Horn concertos (w/Brain)
    Roussel, Symphony No. 4
    Sibelius, Finlandia, En saga, Valse triste
    Tchaikovsky, Romeo and Juliet
    Webern, Passacaglia for orchestra

    So essentially he was at his best in modern repertoire and the two Scandinavians, Grieg and Sibelius.
    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; Jul-16-2019 at 15:15.

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  22. #60
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    ^I agree that HvK’s Webern Passacaglia is the greatest ever. His Webern op.6 pieces is something else too, but I prefer Boulez/LSO by a hair.



    This Bruckner 7th with the Vienna PO, Karajan’s final recording, is just beautiful. I’m not much of a Bruckner guy but Karajan somehow keeps my interest here, at least through the first movement. Am I crazy/naive or i’d this a really good performance...? Does someone want to show me another recording of this symphony which tops this one, just so I can compare fairly?

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