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Thread: Best and Worst Recordings: Karajan

  1. #76
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    Are you familiar with the concept of a "joke?"
    I am but I fear if yours was it was well hidden. Sorry!

  2. #77
    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    This set is great, has raving reviews.
    ( Not that I care, I like to or not)

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  4. #78
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Yep, Hvk/BPO does a nice rendition of Liszt.

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  6. #79
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    Yep, Hvk/BPO does a nice rendition of Liszt.
    There is a brilliant rendering of the Hungarian Fantasy with Cherkassky

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    A couple more of my favorite Karajans. Completely forgot to list the lovely 1950 Zauberflote, my favorite recording after Beecham. Also his EMI collection of overtures and preludes makes an excellent introduction to Wagner's music.




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  9. #81
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    Yep, Hvk/BPO does a nice rendition of Liszt.
    Listening to Karajan's recording of Les Preludes with the Philharmonia on EMI and just a few years later with the BPO on DG is a revelation. Completely different approach.

  10. #82
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I still love his Sibelius. Been playing these today.

    510hnXZCZdL._SX425_.jpg
    51VdFZFCmdL.jpg

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  12. #83
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    I still love his Sibelius. Been playing these today.

    510hnXZCZdL._SX425_.jpg
    51VdFZFCmdL.jpg
    I am also reappraising his EMI Sibelius. I think it's quite good. I still like the DG Sibelius recordings better, as they are clearer in textures and more mysterious. The EMI is loud, in your face, aggressive Sibelius - but it is thrilling.

    I wish he had recorded 7 for EMI. I would be very interested to hear it in that more booming style. But the DG 7th is wondrous.
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; Jul-18-2019 at 17:28.

  13. #84
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    I am also reappraising his EMI Sibelius. I think it's quite good. I still like the DG Sibelius recordings better, as they are clearer in textures and more mysterious. The EMI is loud, in your face, aggressive Sibelius - but it is thrilling.

    I wish he had recorded 7 for EMI. I would be very interested to hear it in that more booming style. But the DG 7th is wondrous.
    It is amazing those tiny eared critics who always bayed on that he conducted everything the same!

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  15. #85
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    It is amazing those tiny eared critics who always bayed on that he conducted everything the same!
    'Slick, homogenous and controlled'. If its written enough people will think its true, even if it isnt.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Without citing a specific example, if a composer writes something that’s honest and raw, it should stay that way in post production and not be glossed over because the conductor may believe in a beautiful surface veneer in his recordings. Most listeners value honesty in a performance and they don’t like intrusive post production effects and manipulation to “improve” it, and Herbert von Karajan was known for doing this and some people didn’t like it and I think they have a right not to like it. It can give a false impression of the music and the orchestra, and those who like him as a conductor should be able to notice this when it happens. When they don’t and when the critics find it obviously there, it calls into question their own discernment and ability to hear. It means keeping the composer’s intentions in mind and then what it sounds like post production, and sometimes his recordings do have a manipulative, seemingly imposed, slick, controlled sound with him trying to be central to everything. There’s something false about it and I don’t think listeners want falsity. They want something that’s genuine, honest and real without the noticeable commercial “improvements”. But did he always do this? No. And I would think the Herbert von Karajan detractors would be able to notice this, but they usually don’t.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jul-18-2019 at 21:40.
    "That's all Folks!"

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  19. #87
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I have to add one of his best:
    Fidelio EMI
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

  20. #88
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Without citing a specific example, if a composer writes something that’s honest and raw, it should stay that way in post production and not be glossed over because the conductor may believe in a beautiful surface veneer in his recordings. Most listeners value honesty in a performance and they don’t like intrusive post production effects and manipulation to “improve” it, and Herbert von Karajan was known for doing this and some people didn’t like it and I think they have a right not to like it. It can give a false impression of the music and the orchestra, and those who like him as a conductor should be able to notice this when it happens. When they don’t and when the critics find it obviously there, it calls into question their own discernment and ability to hear. It means keeping the composer’s intentions in mind and then what it sounds like post production, and sometimes his recordings do have a manipulative, seemingly imposed, slick, controlled sound with him trying to be central to everything. There’s something false about it and I don’t think listeners want falsity. They want something that’s genuine, honest and real without the noticeable commercial “improvements”. But did he always do this? No. And I would think the Herbert von Karajan detractors would be able to notice this, but they usually don’t.
    The question of what listeners want is tricky. How are we to measure this? If it's by comments here, then the verdict is split. If it's by album sales, then it seems as though listeners most definitely want what Karajan brings to the table.

    As far as "not noticing" goes, we were literally just discussing the differences between different recordings. It is clear that Karajan developed a taste for greater post-production alteration later in his career. Some times it worked to positive effect, some times it didn't.

  21. #89
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Without citing a specific example, if a composer writes something that’s honest and raw, it should stay that way in post production and not be glossed over because the conductor may believe in a beautiful surface veneer in his recordings. Most listeners value honesty in a performance and they don’t like intrusive post production effects and manipulation to “improve” it, and Herbert von Karajan was known for doing this and some people didn’t like it and I think they have a right not to like it. It can give a false impression of the music and the orchestra, and those who like him as a conductor should be able to notice this when it happens. When they don’t and when the critics find it obviously there, it calls into question their own discernment and ability to hear. It means keeping the composer’s intentions in mind and then what it sounds like post production, and sometimes his recordings do have a manipulative, seemingly imposed, slick, controlled sound with him trying to be central to everything. There’s something false about it and I don’t think listeners want falsity. They want something that’s genuine, honest and real without the noticeable commercial “improvements”. But did he always do this? No. And I would think the Herbert von Karajan detractors would be able to notice this, but they usually don’t.
    I wish I had a nickle for every time some one derided Karajan's "surface veneer." Karajan could create a beautiful sound and it wasn't a veneer, it was the entire orchestra working together to make a perfectly balanced sound. It was not something that was or could be created in post-production. No recording has ever captured the beauty of Karajan's sound as I heard it the one time I heard Karajan in concert.

    What DG's tonnmeister (I assume the German translation for imbecile) did in the late era was use superfluous spot miking to overemphasize solo passages or generally distort orchestral balances. If you listen to the '63 recording of Karajans Brahms Symphony No 1 (finale) you will hear the beautiful horn theme come from the orchestra. If you listen to the '78 recording, all of a sudden you are listening to a horn concerto, with the horn apparently playing into its own microphone, in a separate sound-stage from the orchestra. It is nothing like what you would hear in the hall, unless the principal horn happened to be sitting three rows in front of you and suddenly stood up and started playing into your face. Between about 1972 and the early 80's they ruined most of Karajan's recordings with these crude intrusions. Perhaps Karajan approved, which would not be to his credit. But it was DG's house style during this era and Karajan didn't invent it.
    Last edited by Baron Scarpia; Jul-19-2019 at 00:12.

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  23. #90
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    That's what it is. Beauty and power, combined.

    I was just listening to Hogwood's Beethoven 5. In addition to finding the changes in tempii weird (hurrying in some passages, slowing to a crawl in others) there was just something unsatisfying about the sound.

    So I popped in Karajan's 77 5th. It's the tones, the rich sonority. In part it's modern instruments, but it's also the way the sounds merge. That, combined with his instinct for tempo, leads to a more emotionally involving experience, for me at least.

    He owes a debt to the BPO (and VPO to a lesser extent), and he had made many a misstep in his long career (which was part of this thread), but he deserves credit where it's due. Many other conductors directed mediocre recordings with the same players.
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; Jul-19-2019 at 05:09.

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