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Thread: Best and Worst Recordings: Karajan

  1. #121
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    Yes, this is a good analogy. IBM occasionally innovates and moves the industry forward. But they can always be counted on to get the fundamentals right.
    Yes, I'm thinking of the IBM of Karajan's day. I remember a story I heard working in a research lab. They had an IBM computer, maybe an IBM system 360, or something similar. They got a budget increase and contacted IBM because they wanted to upgrade it to a faster system. The IBM tech guy comes out, and they're expecting him to install a fancy new logic board to upgrade the CPU. Instead, he opens the thing up, removes a jumper, or some such, "all done." It was the same computer, you just had to pay extra to be allowed to run it full speed.

    Not entirely sure the machine was an IBM, could have been something like a DEC Vax/780.

    Anyone here old enough to have programmed a Vax using a real VT100 terminal. (Not some VT100 emulator running under DOS, windows, etc.)
    Last edited by Baron Scarpia; Jul-23-2019 at 17:42.

  2. #122
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    There is something to this, something great coming from the clash of two strong personalities. And I think it extended into his first decade of recording with the Berlin Philharmonic through the end of the 60's when he making his mark. When it reached the point that DG couldn't say no to him and he got interested in tinkering with the recording process he started to become a parody of himself. There were flashes of brilliance in the last two decades, but not matching the creativity of the early years.
    Interesting that the 'tinkering' took place mainly with the EMI opera sets. Karajan liked to experiment with the latest technology and (in Culshaw's words) 'didn't know as much as he thought he knew' even though he knew more than most conductors. So his tinkering in the control room was sometimes near disastrous. Warner need to remaster the opera sets like Don Carlo and Trovatore and Tristan. Some were also done in QUAD which didn't help. I think the later years struggled to match the earlier years simply because of the skyscraper standards he set in sets like Falstaff and Rosenkavelier. But sets like Salome, Bruckner 4 & 7 for EMI, the final Ballo for DG are brilliant.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jul-23-2019 at 17:43.

  3. #123
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    28942314122.jpg

    Speaking of digital-era Karajan, I am listening to his digital Brahms cycle presently. It is truly unimpeachable. Exciting, rich, full of excellent sonics and playing. It belies the reputation of his 80's recordings.

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  5. #124
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    That's exactly what Karajan aimed for and why so many of us practicing musicians take issue with him. He wanted a monopoly on the recording industry. It was brand name classical music. You can always expect the same sound and the best production values. Served up just like a McDonald's Happy Meal.

    Why take a chance on real artists taking bold risks? Karajan offers you dependability. It is corporate mediocrity to a tee. We see the same thing with movies today. Gone are the days of real stories and bold movies. Corporate Hollywood doesn't want to take risks. So they serve up the same regurgitated formulas that will guarantee ticket sales. Same concept as what Karajan offered.
    The 'connaisseurs' market is not at all interesting for sales. So, the market HvK/DG went for were people with little or no knowledge of classical music, but who were just buying his records because Karajan had become the household name. Also, any regular recordstore with a small classical music collection would know that Karajan always sold and they would not invest in other names. And HvK was the Kim Kardashian of his day, a socialite figure with a strong brand name. Together with the big yellow label on the record sleeve and the Godlike portraits by Lauterwasser, HvK had his own printed Instagram.

  6. #125
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    You expect to be taken seriously when you compare Karajan's recordings of Bruckner, Brahms, Wagner, to a happy meal?

    .
    Frankly I don't think anyone could take the gentleman seriously when he says things like this. I doubt whether any practicing musician of any standing would say the brilliant playing of the BPO (and VPO) on so many recordings could be compared to a McDonald's Happy meal. Just a bit of envy and sour grapes probably that he was not one of them?
    Last edited by DavidA; Jul-23-2019 at 18:04.

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  8. #126
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The 'connaisseurs' market is not at all interesting for sales. So, the market HvK/DG went for were people with little or no knowledge of classical music, but who were just buying his records because Karajan had become the household name. Also, any regular recordstore with a small classical music collection would know that Karajan always sold and they would not invest in other names. And HvK was the Kim Kardashian of his day, a socialite figure with a strong brand name. Together with the big yellow label on the record sleeve and the Godlike portraits by Lauterwasser, HvK had his own printed Instagram.
    Frankly I don't know how you can expect to be taken seriously when you say things like this. Have you got proof that the people who bought Karajan's recordings were people with little or no knowledge of classical music? I could say the same about Kleiber that there was the big yellow label and the godlike figure on the front of his recording of Beethoven 5 & 7. I realise now I shouldn't have bought it as it was a con of the marketing people and the performance is of no value.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jul-23-2019 at 18:08.

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  10. #127
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The 'connaisseurs' market is not at all interesting for sales. So, the market HvK/DG went for were people with little or no knowledge of classical music, but who were just buying his records because Karajan had become the household name. Also, any regular recordstore with a small classical music collection would know that Karajan always sold and they would not invest in other names. And HvK was the Kim Kardashian of his day, a socialite figure with a strong brand name. Together with the big yellow label on the record sleeve and the Godlike portraits by Lauterwasser, HvK had his own printed Instagram.
    This comparison is rubbish. First Happy Meals, now Kardashians? GMAFB.

    What's next.... "did you know he joined the Nazi party?"
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; Jul-23-2019 at 18:09.

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  12. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    You expect to be taken seriously when you compare Karajan's recordings of Bruckner, Brahms, Wagner, to a happy meal?
    In the realm of fast food, absolutely. You are taking the low road of characterizing my comment as equating classical music with fast food. That's a primordial interpretation of my words. To the extent that McDonald's was about mass production, standardization, and advertising to drown out all competition, yes the comparison is completely apt.

    I believe one of my very first comments on this thread was about Karajan providing reliable interpretations in good sound. Nothing wrong with that, unless you are thirsting for more as I tend to do.

  13. #129
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    In the realm of fast food, absolutely. You are taking the low road of characterizing my comment as equating classical music with fast food. That's a primordial interpretation of my words. To the extent that McDonald's was about mass production, standardization, and advertising to drown out all competition, yes the comparison is completely apt.

    I believe one of my very first comments on this thread was about Karajan providing reliable interpretations in good sound. Nothing wrong with that, unless you are thirsting for more as I tend to do.
    Primordial?

    Let's turn that around. How could I describe the impression of pulling into a MacDonalds drive-through and getting a happy meal? Well, imagine going to the Große Musikvereinssaal in Wiener and hearing Karajan perform Bruckner Symphony No 8. It's like that.

    Yep, perfect analogy.
    Last edited by Baron Scarpia; Jul-23-2019 at 18:43.

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  15. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    Primordial?

    Let's turn that around. How could I describe the impression of pulling into a MacDonalds drive-through and getting a happy meal? Well, imagine going to the Große Musikvereinssaal in Wiener and hearing Karajan perform Bruckner Symphony No 8. It's like that.
    I was trying to be creative. Let's go with simplistic.

    And yet here you go again reverting to a simplistic interpretation of what I was getting at. Do you understand what an analogy is?

    My point remains - standardization, commercialism, mass production, brand name advertising to drown out competition...all hallmarks of Herbert von Karajan **AND** McDonalds.
    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; Jul-23-2019 at 18:49.

  16. #131
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    I was trying to be creative. Let's go with simplistic.

    And yet here you go again reverting to a simplistic interpretation of what I was getting at. Do you understand what an analogy is?

    My point remains - standardization, commercialism, mass production, brand name advertising to drown out competition...all hallmarks of Herbert von Karajan **AND** McDonalds.
    BH, I think the analogy inspires disdain because of the vast difference in technical and artistic difficulty between creating a Happy Meal and creating a orchestral performance, even a mediocre one.

    For instance, I loathe this performance of the 9th. But it's still perversely impressive in its technical execution.



    This is not analogous to fast food, or slow food. It's a group of artists with considerable skills being tortured by a perverse director.

    I think the worst you could say of HvK's output is that it was a group of supremely skilled musicians being asked to play relatively conservative interpretations of canon warhorses at a very high level.
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; Jul-23-2019 at 19:04.

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    ^
    There is a poster who is always citing Karajan’s massive record sales as proof of his genius. I would thus think that comparing HvK to a worldwide sales juggernaut like McDonald’s would be flattering.

  18. #133
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    ^
    There is a poster who is always citing Karajan’s massive record sales as proof of his genius. I would thus think that comparing HvK to a worldwide sales juggernaut like McDonald’s would be flattering.
    Are you referring to me? Because I've never held his sales stats as being an indication of genius. His sales stats are an indicator of having consistently made things many people want to own. On this level, the IBM analogy above is a more apt one.

  19. #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    I think the worst you could say of HvK's output is that it was a group of supremely skilled musicians being asked to play relatively conservative interpretations of canon warhorses at a very high level.
    And no, that is NOT the worst you can say of HvK's output. The worst you can say of HvK's output is that he reduced classical music interpretation to glossy, superficial renderings meant to seduce audiences with beautiful sounds as opposed to offering legitimate artistic insight into the minds, hearts, and genius of the composers, thus cheapening the music in the pursuit of mass fame and financial gain.

  20. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    Are you referring to me? Because I've never held his sales stats as being an indication of genius. His sales stats are an indicator of having consistently made things many people want to own. On this level, the IBM analogy above is a more apt one.
    No, I am not referring to you

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