Skip to content

Tag: Herbert von Karajan

Berliner Philharmoniker – Herbert von Karajan and Mstislav Rostropovich with Strauss’s “Don Quixote” 1975 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Herbert von Karajan held Richard Strauss in the highest esteem both as a composer and as a conductor. Of Strauss’s many tone-poems none meant more to Karajan than Don Quixote which he first conducted in Aachen in 1939. His soloist on that occasion was the great Italian cellist Enrico Mainardi, Strauss’s soloist on his own celebrated 1933 Berlin recording.

During the next five decades Don Quixote remained close to the centre of Karajan’s repertory, nor was there a leading exponent of the role of Quixote whom he did not enlist to play: Mainardi, Tortelier, Fournier, Rostropovich, Ma, and in later years the young Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses. In Berlin in 1976, he entrusted the solo role to the Berliner Philharmoniker’s own distinguished principal cellist Ottomar Borwitzky.

Among the many qualities Karajan revered in Strauss was his mastery of the musical epilogue. “They are all wonderful but for me the greatest comes at the end of Don Quixote where Quixote says, ‘I have battled and I have made mistakes but I have lived my life as best I can according to the world as I see it, and now…’ I find this intensely moving.” Such was Karajan’s attachment to the work, he often programmed it to mark moments of farewell, as in Vienna in 1964, or remembrance, as in Berlin in 1986 on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of his predecessor in Berlin, Wilhelm Furtwängler. 

Karajan had a specially warm working relationship with Mstislav Rostropovich (1927–2007). He recalled the start of rehearsals for the present film. “At the cello’s first entry Rostropovich came in with a dreadful slow grumbling noise. I was so surprised I stopped the orchestra. ‘Slava, are you all right?’. ‘Yes, but you see, it’s a very old horse that I’m riding.’ Wonderful!”

Comments closed

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Prokofiev / Stravinsky (1970/2017) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 In B-Flat, Op.100 / Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps (1970/2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:18:01 minutes | 1,44 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Karajan does it again. The Prokofiev 5th is another of the great conductor’s famous recordings. He labored for years, refining and perfecting his interpretation of this perennial favorite. It’s one of the most played of 20th-century symphonies. Unlike many other works, Karajan recorded this symphony just once and he got everything right the first time. It’s my experience with Karajan that when the man records only once, it’s usually quite an accomplishment. Check out his lone recordings of Richard Strauss’ Sinfonia Domestica and Alpine Symphony or Mahler’s Fifth to know just how masterful Karajan can be when he zeroes in and makes a near perfect record of a piece of music. This Prokofiev 5th is in that elite class. The beautiful strings of the Berlin Philharmonic, the swirling woodwinds and the breathtaking cymbal crashes at the end of the first movement in particular are just some of the icing on the cake. Amazing performance, no doubt.

Comments closed

Berliner Philharmoniker – Conversation, master class and performance꞉ Karajan conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 1966 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

The Art of Conducting was the title given by Herbert von Karajan to the series of innovative music documentaries which he made in the mid-1960s with the distinguished French director Henri-Georges Clouzot. Karajan loved to know how things work and was convinced that in the modern world others thought likewise. At the same time he was convinced that too little was known about his own profession and that of the orchestral musicians with whom he collaborated. His aim in The Art of Conducting was to throw fresh light on this.

Karajan used a variety of combinations. In the Schumann programme it was rehearsal and performance; in the Dvořák it was conversation and performance. For this Beethoven film a further element is added, as an apprentice conductor is shown how to rehearse the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony. Karajan would tell students: “I cannot tell you how to conduct but I can tell you how to rehearse in such a way that in the concert you will not need to conduct.”

Karajan believed that words can establish an idea which will help unlock the music’s essential character. He also believed in the need for musicians to imagine the sound they require; lodge that in the mind and the fingers will do the rest. What Karajan does not say – though his comments during the rehearsal vividly demonstrate the fact – is how any aspiring conductor must know in the finest of fine detail the inner workings of the piece he is about to conduct.

The Berliner Philharmoniker have long been known for the visceral intensity of their music-making. In this 1966 film, Clouzot’s cameras set out to celebrate the corporate togetherness of the Berlin musicians playing in the context of Karajan’s own high-octane reading of this most celebrated of symphonies.

Comments closed

Beethoven – Berliner Philharmoniker / Herbert von Karajan – Symphony No. 7 & No. 8 (2003) [Hybrid-SACD] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 & No. 8 in F major, op. 93
Berliner Philharmoniker / Herbert von Karajan
SACD ISO (Stereo): 2,43 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,08 GB | Full Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: Deutsche Grammophon # 474 604-2 G SA6 | Country/Year: Germany 2003, 1963
Genre: Classical | Style: Viennese School, Orchestral

[review on the complete reissue series] I acquired this set, originally recorded in sessions in 1961 and 1962, as part of the process of comparing performances of Beethoven’s 5th on SACD and have since been listening to the other symphonies. Except for the 8th and 9th symphonies, this was my first exposure to this Karajan cycle. I acquired those LP’s of the 8th and 9th in the early 70’s, and then acquired the entire mid-seventies set, again on LP. Critical consensus at the time was that the newer set superseded the earlier one, so I saw no need to acquaint myself with it until now. I haven’t heard the later set for many years now, so I’m not in a position to do a detailed comparison.

In general, I like this cycle very much, although it has its flaws. If Sony were to release the slightly earlier Szell/Cleveland complete on SACD I could easily imagine preferring that one virtually across the board, and as I noted, I also think Vanska’s new 5th symphony is superior to Karajan’s. However, there is a lot of spirit and joy in this cycle, something Karajan wasn’t always accused of. It proves that it always pays to listen with open ears before passing judgment.

Generalizing, I find the textures to be string dominated, with brass and wind relatively recessed. Masur, for example, in his set (I bought that one, too, review to come) does a better job than Karajan in bringing out wind detail. Percussion is quite emphatic, however, and it sounds like the timpanist is using hard sticks. A combination of the reverberant acoustic in the Jesus Christus Kirche, free bowing (more below) and a tendency for under articulation leads to a sweet, even gooey (don’t know how else to describe it) string sound. The composer/conductor Bruno Maderna once referred to Karajan’s “chocolate” Beethoven, and I now understand what he meant.

Richard Osborne’s excellent biography of Karajan (Herbert von Karajan, a Life in Music) relates that Karajan allowed his string players to bow freely. Given HvK’s reputation, I found this hard to believe when I read it, even from as authoritative source as Osborne, but hearing these recordings I can well believe it. Most conductors require their string players to bow in unison, and typically mark the parts to show the bowings they want. With free bowing, you get a lusher but also less precise string sound, which is evident in many of these recordings. There are even a few instances (such as the first movement of the 4th) where the ensemble lapses are noticeable, possibly due to the use of free bowing. Leopold Stokowski was another famous advocate of free bowing, by the way.

With a few exceptions, tempos are relatively swift, and Karajan has a tendency to insert retards before codas and at the end of movements. Repeats are not taken in the first movements of the Eroica, Pastoral and 7th.

The most successful performances are the Eroica, the 4th, (despite a few retards announcing the trio sections in the scherzo), the 5th, and the 9th. These will sweep you along, but without slighting the music. I’m not crazy about Kmentt (the tenor) in the 9th, but the rest of the vocalists are superb, as are the Wiener Singverein. Karajan sets tempos that make utter sense in the context of the music, and pays close attention to tempo relationships as well. I am convinced by Karajan’s way with the 7th for the first and second movements, but he loses me in the scherzo where he follows the tradition of converting the trio into a virtual dirge. While the score indicates a much slower tempo than the presto, listen to Toscanini (the incandescent 1936 NYPO recording) for an object lesson in the tempo relationships in this movement. To be fair, most conductors follow the tradition here for a very slow trio, but it is way more effective played up to the tempo indicated in the score. In the last movement, I feel that Karajan overplays the countermelody at the expense of the main line.

Karajan’s Pastoral is controversial, with a very fast tempo in the first movement. I’m in a minority to think it works, mostly due to the beautiful string playing from the Berliners, but I too prefer a slightly slower pace, and a repeat if I can get one. Great storm. I have found that my own first choice for the Pastoral is idiosyncratic, since no one else seems to share this – Reiner and the CSO-just an absolutely beautiful performance, relaxed, limpid, stunning. Hope it comes out on SACD.

The first two symphonies feel overblown to me-large orchestra, emphatic rhythms, relatively moderate pacing of the scherzos-not bad, but not as good as these can be played. The 4th symphony, as noted, is very good. The 8th is quite good for 3 of the 4 movements, but I’ve always felt that Karajan’s tempo for the 3rd movement is just too slow. Osborne, in his notes to the set, calls Karajan’s tempo “ponderous” – I totally agree.

I cannot comment on the sound of this release vs. earlier incarnations – my LP’s of the 8th and 9th are long gone. In general, the sound is good, but over reverberant for my taste, which leads to a certain opaqueness-at times I feel like I have to peer through a slightly fogged over window to see the performance, if I can use an analogy.

The packaging of this is first class. I really appreciate the layout – symphonies are coupled consecutively, which I much prefer. There is the bonus rehearsal disc (haven’t heard it yet), and some excellent notes from Osborne. As individual recordings, the discs of the Eroica and 4th symphonies, and the 9th are highly recommended; however, I believe there is a lot of merit in listening to an entire cycle, and certainly this one afforded hours of unexpected pleasure; even with the flaws I’ve mentioned.

Comments closed

Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op.40 (1959) [Japanese SHM-SACD 2014] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op.40 (1959) [Japan 2014]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 45:43 minutes | Scans NOT included | 1,83 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans NOT included | 834 MB
Japanese SHM-SACD / This version uses the DSD master made by Emil Berliner Studios, Germany in 2014

Say what you want about the egomaniacal Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, he was far & away the best postwar interpreter of German composer Richard Strauss’ megalomaniacal Ein Heldenleben. In this 1959 Deutsche Grammophon recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan approaches the work as a portrait painted in sound of the artist as a young world conqueror. Though Karajan draws playing of tremendous fire & daring out of the Berlin musicians & though Deutsche Grammophon captures the performance in immediate stereo sound, the real hero of this Hero’s Life is Karajan himself. He has the measure of the score, knows when to apply pressure & when to pull back, when to let the brass go & when to reign them in, when to let the harmonies bloom & when to cut them off. But more importantly, Karajan believes in the music. Other postwar conductors could give convincing performances of Ein Heldenleben — one thinks, of course, of Fritz Reiner & the Chicago Symphony’s high-powered 1954 RCA recording — but Karajan isn’t performing the work: he’s living it. The sweep & swagger of the opening theme, the imperious power of the battle music, the expansive monumentality of the closing pages: this isn’t an act for Karajan; this is life itself.

Comments closed

Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – Bruckner: Symphony No.7 in E major (1972) [Japan 2012] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Bruckner: Symphony No.7 in E major (1972) [Japan 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 68:08 minutes | Covers included | 2,73 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Covers included | 1,12 GB
Japanese SACD Reissue 2012 | EMI Classics / Esoteric Company, Japan # ESSE 90059

The reissue of classical music masterpieces by ESOTERIC has attracted a lot of attention, both for its uncompromising commitment to recreating the original master sound, and for using hybrid Super Audio CD (SACD) technology to improve sound quality. This series marks the first hybrid SACD release of historical recording selections that have been mainstays of the catalog since their initial release on LP, until the present digital age of CD. These new audio versions feature ESOTERIC’s proprietary re-mastering process to achieve the highest level of sound quality.

Comments closed

Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Verdi: Messa da Requiem (1972) [Japanese SHM-SACD 2012] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Verdi: Messa da Requiem (1972) [Japanese SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 88:54 minutes | Scans included | 3,59 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,51 GB

Japanese original release. Uses 2012 DSD master based on the Deutsche Grammophon’s original analog tape.

Comments closed

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Mozart: Late Symphonies (Remastered) (2018) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Mozart: Late Symphonies (Remastered) (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 03:17:53 minutes | 3,37 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon

Bereits historisch ist die Beschftigung von Herbert von Karajan mit Mozarts Symphonien. Einen wichtigen Teil davon findet Sie hier vereint. Mozart: Late Symphonies” fasst die Einspielungen der Symphonien Nr. 32 bis Nr.41 Jupiter” zusammen und dokumentiert die Berliner Philharmoniker einmal mehr als Weltklasse-Orchester mit charismatischem Maestro an der Spitze.

“Ein meisterhaft gespielter Mozart. Karajans Klangpalette ist ungemein raffiniert.” (FonoForum)

“Beautifully played and vitally alert readings” (Penguin Guide)

Comments closed

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4; Hebrides Overture (1971,1973/2016) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4; Hebrides Overture (1971,1973/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 01:18:34 minutes | 1,52 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet | © Deutsche Grammophon

“Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic performance is worthy of Mendelssohn’s inspiration, and this album makes a splendid memento of a famous Scottish visit.” (Penguin Guide)

Comments closed

Leontyne Price, Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan – Puccini: Tosca (1963/2017) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Leontyne Price, Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan – Puccini: Tosca (1963/2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:52:44 minutes | 2,24 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  | Front cover | © Decca Records

The dramas of Victorien Sardou, in the last decades of the nineteenth century, were as popular in Italy as they were in France. French companies, therefore, could tour the Italian theatres and attract large audiences willing to ignore any language barrier. Giacomo Puccini knew hardly any French when he went to see Sardou’s La Tosca in Milan in 1890, and yet he apparently enjoyed himself. Actually, he may have gone to the theatre — like a majority of the Milanese public — not so much to see the play as to admire its star, the forty-five-year-old Sarah Bernhardt, to whom La Tosca is dedicated and for whom it was written.

The divine Sarah was Sardou’s Tosca, the heroic cantatrice, the unashamed mistress of Mario Cavaradossi, and the unrepentant murderess of Scarpia. The rest of the play was hardly more than an elaborate, carefully constructed frame for her singular, spectacular talents. But Puccini must have seen past her dazzling interpretation, arriving at the heart of the drama itself. Anyway, he returned to see Sarah and La Tosca in Florence in 1895.

But by this time the composer had an even more impelling motive for revisiting the play: a libretto was in the process of being fashioned from it for him. The first talk of a Tosca libretto had begun some years earlier, in 1889, when Puccini had been at the very outset of his career. His first (and least successful) librettist, the journalist and playwright Ferdinando Fontana, had suggested the popular Sardou play to Puccini, who wrote to his publisher Giulio Ricordi about it. Then he turned to other subjects, writing Manon Lescaut and La Bohme in the years between 1889 and 1895. If the vain, successful and money-minded Sardou had been reluctant to grant operatic rights of his play to an unknown composer in the 1880s he was more than interested, a decade later, in having the internationally acclaimed Puccini make an opera from LaTosca.

There was an obstacle, however, which first had to be overcome. Sardou had already granted these same rights to Alberto Franchetti, a friend of Puccini’s, and the composer of two operas that enjoyed some popularity at that time, Asrael and Cristoforo Colombo. Ricordi, who was also Franchetti’s publisher, had commissioned the librettist Luigi Illica to prepare a Tosca text for him.

Comments closed
%d bloggers like this: