Page 1 of 37 1234511 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 543

Thread: The Grand Karajan Review Thread

  1. #1
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,161
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default The Grand Karajan Review Thread

    Well, I've gone and done it. During my quarantine, I've purchased all three DG Karajan "Decade" box sets, and I've been assiduously ripping the music as FLAC files to my music player, listening over my fancy headphones, scanning the cover art, and forming opinions.

    This thread is intended to be a review of Karajan's DG output. I will post information about each recording, a high quality cover image, and a short review of each, with a final score of 1 to 10. Where applicable, I will compare Karajan's other recordings of the same work. Maybe if I have other renditions, I will compare it against them, though that is not my primary intent. I do not want this to inspire any urinating matches between fans of this or that conductor/orchestra, and I really want this to be more like a database.

    So here is my first review.

    1960's Disc 1
    LP#138025 (18 500)


    CD01.jpg

    Ein Heldenleben, op. 40
    composed by R. Strauss

    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Michel Schwalbe, violin soloist
    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 2-4 March 1959
    Executive Producer: Hans Ritter
    Recording Producer: Werner Wolf
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 45:40

    Review:

    Karajan's first recording with Deutsche Grammophon, this is a truly sensational beginning to a long, famous, and profitable relationship. This reading differs very little from Karajan's 70s and 80s recordings, with very similar tempii. The main differences are in aspects of the recording. This recording (in the box set OIBP remaster) is quite dynamic and has good bass. There is a small amount of analog tape hiss, but it is not terribly obtrusive and is easy enough to tune out, except during the quieter moments of the 5th movement. The orchestral sound is more unified and less spot-miked than the later recordings, especially the 80s. With that said, the percussion is not recessed, which is to my liking. The solo playing by Schwalbe is top shelf. Sonically, I'd have to give the nod to the 1970s recording. Overall, though, this is an extremely engaging recording with a very nice rendition of the piece.

    Rating: 9/10

    Video:


    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; May-10-2020 at 08:02.

  2. Likes Knorf, annaw, Helgi and 4 others liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,161
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default


    1960's Disc 2
    LP#138080 (18 610)


    CD02.jpg

    Hungarian Dances, WoO 1 (nos. 5,6,17,3,1,20,19,18)
    composed by Johannes Brahms
    Slavonic Dances (nos. 1,10,3,16,7)
    composed by Antonin Dvorak


    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 4 September 1959
    Executive Producer: Elsa Schiller
    Recording Producer: Werner Wolf
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 43:51

    Review:


    This rendition of various of Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Dvorak's Slavic dances is very peppy. My kids love listening to this recording. I can say that the faster dances are among the peppiest tempo recordings I've heard of them. Sonically, this one is a bit less impressive than the previous Heldenleben. Analog tape noise is a bit more pronounced. With that said, the recording still has some nice dynamic range and bass response. Percussion is clear, and the triangle comes through nicely. Overall, very enjoyable, though it sounds its age to some degree.

    Rating: 8/10

    Video:


  4. Likes annaw, D Smith, flamencosketches and 2 others liked this post
  5. #3
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,161
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    1960's Disc 3
    LP#138692 (18 692)

    CD03.jpg

    Liszt: Mazeppa (S100), Hungarian Rhapsody No 5 (S395/5), Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies (S 123), Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4 (S359/4)

    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Shura Cherkassky, Piano (3)

    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 12-13 December 1960 (2-3) and 16-17 February 1961 (1/4)
    Executive Producers: Hans Ritter (2) Elsa Schiller (1/3), Otto Gerdes (4)
    Recording Producers: Hans Ritter (3/4) Otto Gerdes (1)
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 57:41

    Review:

    Wow, I don't know what they figured out between 1959 and late 1960, but the sound quality on these recordings is stellar. Bass is deep and resonant, analog hiss is very tame, and the overall quality of sound is exceptional. The renditions of these pieces are brisk and exciting with a lot of patriotic feeling. The cover image is aptly chosen, because for much of this run-time, what's on offer is thrilling. Slower passages, such as in the finale of Rhapsody No. 5, are really excellent. The piano on the Rhapsody on Hungaran Folk Melodies is terrific. All in all, a thrill ride from beginning to end. I find it interesting that Karajan and DG chose two Hungarian-themed sets, as well as Slavonic and, in the next release, French music. Whatever was behind it, they really came out swinging with numerous exciting recordings in a row.

    Rating: 10/10

    Video:
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; May-10-2020 at 19:03.

  6. Likes Malx, annaw, Merl and 4 others liked this post
  7. #4
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    15,944
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    1960's Disc 3
    LP#138692 (18 692)

    CD03.jpg

    Liszt: Mazeppa (S100), Hungarian Rhapsody No 5 (S395/5), Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies (S 123), Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4 (S359/4)

    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Shura Cherkassky, Piano (3)

    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 12-13 December 1960 (2-3) and 16-17 February 1961 (1/4)
    Executive Producers: Hans Ritter (2) Elsa Schiller (1/3), Otto Gerdes (4)
    Recording Producers: Hans Ritter (3/4) Otto Gerdes (1)
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 57:41

    Review:

    Wow, I don't know what they figured out between 1959 and late 1960, but the sound quality on these recordings is stellar. Bass is deep and resonant, analog hiss is very tame, and the overall quality of sound is exceptional. The renditions of these pieces are brisk and exciting with a lot of patriotic feeling. The cover image is aptly chosen, because for much of this run-time, what's on offer is thrilling. Slower passages, such as in the finale of Rhapsody No. 5, are really excellent. The piano on the Rhapsody on Hungaran Folk melodies is terrific. All in all, a thrill ride from beginning to end. I find it interesting that Karajan and DG chose two Hungarian-themed sets, as well as Slavonic and, in the next release, French music. Whatever was behind it, they really came out swinging with numerous exciting recordings in a row.

    Rating: 10/10

    Video:
    I have this - Cherkassky’splaying is fabulous!

  8. Likes MatthewWeflen liked this post
  9. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Frankfurt am Main
    Posts
    1,484
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    1960's Disc 3
    LP#138692 (18 692)

    CD03.jpg

    Liszt: Mazeppa (S100), Hungarian Rhapsody No 5 (S395/5), Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies (S 123), Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4 (S359/4)

    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Shura Cherkassky, Piano (3)

    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 12-13 December 1960 (2-3) and 16-17 February 1961 (1/4)
    Executive Producers: Hans Ritter (2) Elsa Schiller (1/3), Otto Gerdes (4)
    Recording Producers: Hans Ritter (3/4) Otto Gerdes (1)
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 57:41

    Review:

    Wow, I don't know what they figured out between 1959 and late 1960, but the sound quality on these recordings is stellar. Bass is deep and resonant, analog hiss is very tame, and the overall quality of sound is exceptional. The renditions of these pieces are brisk and exciting with a lot of patriotic feeling. The cover image is aptly chosen, because for much of this run-time, what's on offer is thrilling. Slower passages, such as in the finale of Rhapsody No. 5, are really excellent. The piano on the Rhapsody on Hungaran Folk melodies is terrific. All in all, a thrill ride from beginning to end. I find it interesting that Karajan and DG chose two Hungarian-themed sets, as well as Slavonic and, in the next release, French music. Whatever was behind it, they really came out swinging with numerous exciting recordings in a row.

    Rating: 10/10

    Video:


    I am with DavidA... also have this "Liszt Orchestral works (DG 2 Cd edition)" and indeed sound and interpretation are fabulous!!

  10. Likes MatthewWeflen, Tsaraslondon liked this post
  11. #6
    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    2,375
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Thanks Matthew for sharing your thoughts on these Karajan discs. So far I agree with you 100% and you've prompted me to pull out the Liszt and re-listen!

  12. Likes MatthewWeflen, Tsaraslondon liked this post
  13. #7
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    1,802
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Agreed. Thank you, MatthewWeflen, for creating this. It's an interesting thread, and I will be following your reviews with interest! I'm on record as being a fan of the 1959 Ein Heldenleben, but you're causing me to realize there are other recordings from that time, roughly, that I've not heard but would probably really enjoy.

    I am also pleased the usual Karajan haters haven't shown up, yet. I imagine they will make an appearance at some point, but for now it's peaceful.

  14. Likes Tsaraslondon liked this post
  15. #8
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    15,944
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    Agreed. Thank you, MatthewWeflen, for creating this. It's an interesting thread, and I will be following your reviews with interest! I'm on record as being a fan of the 1959 Ein Heldenleben, but you're causing me to realize there are other recordings from that time, roughly, that I've not heard but would probably really enjoy.

    I am also pleased the usual Karajan haters haven't shown up, yet. I imagine they will make an appearance at some point, but for now it's peaceful.
    I have the later EMI Heldenleben. I don’t know how it compares with the earlier one

  16. #9
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,161
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    Agreed. Thank you, MatthewWeflen, for creating this. It's an interesting thread, and I will be following your reviews with interest! I'm on record as being a fan of the 1959 Ein Heldenleben, but you're causing me to realize there are other recordings from that time, roughly, that I've not heard but would probably really enjoy.

    I am also pleased the usual Karajan haters haven't shown up, yet. I imagine they will make an appearance at some point, but for now it's peaceful.
    I will be refraining from claiming that any Karajan recordings are superior, so hopefully that will reduce the typical HvK bashing. I am planning only to mention alternative recordings as preferable to these.

    I should have 2 more up tonight
    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; May-10-2020 at 22:56.

  17. #10
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    1,802
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I have the later EMI Heldenleben. I don’t know how it compares with the earlier one
    They're pretty similar. Some prefer one, some the other. The EMI is better recorded, but it's not like the DG is bad. On the contrary! I think only Karajan/Strauss collectors really need both.

  18. #11
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,353
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I am also pleased the usual Karajan haters haven't shown up, yet. I imagine they will make an appearance at some point, but for now it's peaceful.
    Karajan uber alles

  19. Likes MaxKellerman liked this post
  20. #12
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,161
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    1960's Disc 4
    LP#136 257 (19 257)


    CD04.jpg

    Leo Delibes Coppelia Balet Suite
    Frederic Chopin Les Sylphides
    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra

    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 25-28 April 1961
    Recording Producer: Hans Weber
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 55:58

    Review:

    These pieces were unfamiliar to me. They are whimsical and bright, and very "pops" to my ears. They are well-played and well-recorded. The prelude to Coppelia (which is the highlight of the disc for me) has an almost Wagnerian feel to the horn intro and has some very nice bass parts, and then when things get more rollicking about halfway through, percussion and brass do not drown out any other parts. Analog hiss is well controlled overall. The Chopin was not terribly memorable to me, but I can't speak to whether alternative versions are better.

    Rating: 7/10

    Video:

    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; May-11-2020 at 06:44.

  21. Likes Knorf, The3Bs, D Smith and 1 others liked this post
  22. #13
    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,161
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    1960's Disc 5
    LP#138 767 (18 767)


    CD05.jpg

    Mozart Requiem K626
    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Wilma Lipp, soprano
    Hilde Rossel-Majdan, contralto
    Anton Dermota, tenor
    Walter Berry, bass
    Wiener Singverein, chorus
    Chorus Master: Reinhold Schmid


    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 5-12 October 1961
    Executive Producer: Otto Gerdes
    Recording Producer: Otto Gerdes
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 56:07

    Review:

    The Introitus is enveloping and amazing. Wilma Lipp is excellent and I think surpasses Anna Tomowa-Sintow in both her 70s and 80s recordings with HvK. The Dies Irae in this recording lacks just a little bit of punch for my tastes, and is surpassed by the 1980s recording with the VPO. It's not poorly played or sung by any means, and I think it comes down to recording. Overall, however, this is a top shelf rendition of the Requiem and doesn't fail to pull me in. This is a tough call between the 80s and 60s, and I think the 60s gets the edge because of the resonant bass and the vocalists (Walter Berry's and Anton Dermota's Tuba Mirum is also superlative).

    Rating: 9/10

    Video:

    Last edited by MatthewWeflen; May-11-2020 at 06:42.

  23. Likes Malx, D Smith, The3Bs and 1 others liked this post
  24. #14
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    15,944
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    1960's Disc 5
    LP#138 767 (18 767)


    CD05.jpg

    Mozart Requiem K626
    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Wilma Lipp, soprano
    Hilde Rossel-Majdan, contralto
    Anton Dermota, tenor
    Walter Berry, bass
    Wiener Singverein, chorus
    Chorus Master: Reinhold Schmid


    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 5-12 October 1961
    Executive Producer: Otto Gerdes
    Recording Producer: Otto Gerdes
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 56:07

    Review:

    The Introitus is enveloping and amazing. Wilma Lipp is excellent and I think surpasses Anna Tomowa-Sintow in both her 70s and 80s recordings with HvK. The Dies Irae in this recording lacks just a little bit of punch for my tastes, and is surpassed by the 1980s recording with the VPO. It's not poorly played or sung by any means, and I think it comes down to recording. Overall, however, this is a top shelf rendition of the Requiem and doesn't fail to pull me in. This is a tough call between the 80s and 60s, and I think the 60s gets the edge because of the resonant bass and the vocalists (Walter Berry's and Anton Dermota's Tuba Mirum is also superlative).

    Rating: 9/10

    Video:

    I had this n LP many years ago and had much pleasure out of listening to it

  25. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Frankfurt am Main
    Posts
    1,484
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    1960's Disc 5
    LP#138 767 (18 767)


    CD05.jpg

    Mozart Requiem K626
    Berlin Philharmonic, orchestra
    Wilma Lipp, soprano
    Hilde Rossel-Majdan, contralto
    Anton Dermota, tenor
    Walter Berry, bass
    Wiener Singverein, chorus
    Chorus Master: Reinhold Schmid


    Recorded at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 5-12 October 1961
    Executive Producer: Otto Gerdes
    Recording Producer: Otto Gerdes
    Balance Engineer: Gunter Hermanns
    Total time: 56:07

    Review:

    The Introitus is enveloping and amazing. Wilma Lipp is excellent and I think surpasses Anna Tomowa-Sintow in both her 70s and 80s recordings with HvK. The Dies Irae in this recording lacks just a little bit of punch for my tastes, and is surpassed by the 1980s recording with the VPO. It's not poorly played or sung by any means, and I think it comes down to recording. Overall, however, this is a top shelf rendition of the Requiem and doesn't fail to pull me in. This is a tough call between the 80s and 60s, and I think the 60s gets the edge because of the resonant bass and the vocalists (Walter Berry's and Anton Dermota's Tuba Mirum is also superlative).

    Rating: 9/10

    Video:

    This is the LP and then CD I got to know this work!!! Thanks to my parents!!!
    My taste has since moved in other directions, but I still keep a CD copy of it for reference...

Page 1 of 37 1234511 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

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