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Tag: Herbert von Karajan

Berliner Philharmoniker – Weissenberg and Karajan play Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov 1967 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In the mid-1960s Herbert von Karajan began seeking out directors interested in filming music in new ways. One such was the Swedish director Åke Falck (1925–1974) whose film of the Bulgarian-born virtuoso Alexis Weissenberg (1929–2012) playing the Three Movements from Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” had been brought to Karajan’s notice. After a private viewing, Karajan expressed an interest in meeting the pianist. “No problem,” he was told. “He’s sitting right behind you.”

A child prodigy, Weissenberg had studied in Sofia under Bulgaria’s leading pianist and composer Pancho Vladigerov (1899–1978) whose punishing First Piano Concerto the 18-year-old Karajan had played in Salzburg in 1926, damaging a tendon in the process. After Bulgaria’s annexation by the Axis Powers in 1941, Weissenberg and his mother fled to Palestine. Weissenberg quickly gained attention there and in the United States where in 1947 he won the Leventritt Prize. Important engagements followed but he quickly tired of touring. The performances of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto which he gave on film and in concert with Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1967 marked his return to the international scene.

Karajan generally reserved the Tchaikovsky concerto for special artists. He recorded it with Sviatoslav Richter and Lazar Berman and famously conducted it for the 17-year-old Evgeny Kissin in Berlin on New Year’s Eve 1988.

Where Falck’s filming of the Tchaikovsky is clearly experimental, the film of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto which Karajan himself directed in 1971 is more a musically informed concert hall report. Karajan loved Rachmaninov’s music and Weissenberg’s playing of it (Weissenberg’s RCA recording of the complete Préludes was one of Karajan’s favourite records). The Rachmaninov sound Karajan draws from the Berliner Philharmoniker recalls the sound on a famous series of recordings which Rachmaninov made with Leopold Stokowski’s Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1930s, recordings which Karajan knew intimately.

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Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Op. 123 (Remastered) (1966/2020) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Op. 123 (Remastered) (1966/2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 01:25:53 minutes | 3,55 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Ludwig van Beethoven betrachtete die Missa solemnis als “das gelungenste seiner Geistesprodukte”.

Herbert von Karajans ikonische Aufnahme der Missa Solemnis von 1966 mit den Berliner Philharmonikern und einem herausragendem Quartett von Solisten (Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Fritz Wunderlich und Walter Berry) erscheint erstmals als Blu-ray Audio. Komplett neu gemastered in den renommierten Emil Berliner Studios liegt diese ausgezeichnete Einspielung nun in audiophiler Klangqualität 24bit/192kHz vor. Der Aufnahme liegt ein 20-seitiges Booklet in Deutsch und Englisch bei mit einem exklusiven Kommentar von Gundula Janowitz “Recording with Karajan”.

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Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Herbert von Karajan, Wiener Philharmoniker – Puccini: Madama Butterfly (1974/2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Herbert von Karajan, Wiener Philharmoniker – Puccini: Madama Butterfly (1974/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:50:00 minutes | 2,49 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front cover | © Decca Music Group Ltd.

A 1974 recording of Puccini’s classic opera Madama Butterfly, one of the most-performed operas in the world. Herbert von Karajan conducts The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with a compelling Mirella Freni in the title role, up-and-coming superstar Luciano Pavarotti as Pinkerton, Christa Ludwig as Suzuki and Robert Kerns as Sharpless.

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Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Puccini: La Boheme (1972/2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Puccini: La Bohème (1972/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:50:00 minutes | 2,05 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front cover | © Decca Music Group Ltd.

The role of Rodolfo from Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème launched Luciano Pavarotti’s career in 1961 when he made his professional debut in a small regional production in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He would revisit the role several times over his career, including this 1972 album considered to be one of the finest versions of La Bohème ever recorded. Equally impressive here is Pavarotti’s childhood friend Mirella Freni as Mimi. Conductor Herbert von Karajan proves himself a masterful, sensitive interpreter of Puccini as he leads the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Performances and conversation꞉ Karajan conducts Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 1966 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In the winter of 1965–66 Herbert von Karajan made a series of documentary films with the distinguished French director Henri-Georges Clouzot (1907–1977). Using a combination of rehearsal sequences, interviews and specially filmed complete performances, Karajan hoped to reveal for the first time the inner workings of the very different worlds of rehearsal and performance. Shot in black and white, Clouzot’s preferred medium, the series was entitled Die Kunst des Dirigierens (The Art of Conducting).

For the film of Dvořák’s last symphony From the New World, Karajan chose to explore with the musicologist Denis Stevens how the work came into being, its folkloric aspects in particular. Happy to play the role of the enquiring pupil, Karajan also reveals himself to be formidably well informed both about the symphony and the wider cultural issues which surround it.

Karajan made his earliest forays into the Czech repertory in the late 1930s. He knew and revered the work of the great Czech conductor Václav Talich and was strongly influenced by Arturo Toscanini who was a justly celebrated interpreter of the New World Symphony. Karajan first recorded the symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker in March 1940. By the time of this 1966 film his reading was less episodic, more of a piece. It is also more exciting aurally. Under Karajan’s inspired tutelage, the Berlin Philharmoniker were by this time as much revered for their playing of Debussy, Ravel and Sibelius as they were for their playing of Brahms and Beethoven. Dvořák is often thought of as a Czech Brahms. In this electrifying 1966 account of the New World Symphony, Dvořák’s last symphony appears to look forward as much as it looks back.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Memorial Concert for Herbert von Karajan 1999 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In a newspaper interview, Claudio Abbado once said Herbert von Karajan had been “like a father” to him. The veteran passed on much valuable advice to the man who became his successor in Berlin, also decisively promoting Abbado’s career by inviting him to the Salzburg Festival in 1965. So for Abbado it was not only a duty but also a matter of personal significance to conduct this 1999 Memorial Concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker in Salzburg Cathedral to mark the tenth anniversary of Karajan’s death. The programme included the Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Hardly any other work is surrounded by such a similar sense of mystery. Firstly, because of the story of its composition. In the summer of 1791, a strange messenger came to Mozart requesting him to compose a requiem. Some later alleged that this messenger was to blame for Mozart’s early death – a mistake, because as we now know, the Requiem was commissioned by a harmless count whose eccentricities included passing off works by other composers as his own creations.

The mythical status of the Requiem was strengthened by the fact that Mozart died during its composition – we experience him here, as it were, on the threshold of the afterlife. The unusual character of the work may however be critical to its strong appeal. Throughout his life, Mozart had clearly separated his life and composition, his feelings and moods are expressed at best indirectly in his music. The Requiem, however, seems to give us an unfiltered reflection of his feelings, his fear of death – the pent-up composer becomes a fellow man.

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Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Bruckner: Symphonies No. 4 – No. 9 (2019) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Berliner Philharmoniker & Herbert von Karajan – Bruckner: Symphonies No. 4 – No. 9 (2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 06:52:21 minutes | 16,8 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Neues ReMaster: Anlässlich des 30. Todestages Herbert von Karajans präsentiert Deutsche Grammophon den legendären Zyklus der Bruckner-Sinfonien mit den Berliner Philharmonikern.

Karajans Bruckner-Zyklus mit den Berliner Philharmonikern, aufgenommen zwischen Januar 1975 und Januar 1981, ist ein Meilenstein in der Geschichte der Bruckner-Aufnahmen. Diese Einspielungen zeugen von dem überaus feinen Gespür dieses einzigartigen Maestros und zählen zweifellos zu Karajans bedeutendsten Aufnahmen – gewiss handelt es sich aber auch um eine der tiefgründigsten Bruckner-Interpretationen überhaupt.

“Karajan sieht das Brucknersche Klangbild im ganzen, der großbogige Orchestergesang bedeutet ihm das Entscheidende. Auf diese Weise erhalten Bruckners Symphonien bei ihm eine spezifische Geschlossenheit. Hervorragend präsentes und konturen- reiches Klangbild, vorzügliche breite Räumlichkeit.” (FonoForum)

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Karajan conducts Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Nos. 4–6 1973 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s long and distinguished tradition of Tchaikovsky performance can be traced back to their founding years. Tchaikovsky himself knew and admired the orchestra’s two earliest principal conductors Hans von Bülow and Artur Nikisch. Their inspired advocacy of his music – the last three symphonies in particular – would be continued by their similarly dedicated and charismatic successors Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan. 

The 20-year-old Karajan included Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in his very first professional concert in Salzburg in January 1929. The Pathétique Symphony followed in Ulm in 1933. He told his parents, “When it was all over, the audience sat as if dead for ten seconds, then bawled their approval as if at a football match.” In 1939, the year after his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan recorded the Pathétique with the orchestra. The artistic self-possession he displayed in his handling of both the music and the orchestra was widely noted at the time. By now he also had in his repertoire the tragic yet electrifying Fourth Symphony, a work of which he would become one of the great interpreters.

Karajan and his director of photography Ernst Wild made these films in Berlin in 1973 at the end of a decade during which he and a group of distinguished avant-garde film directors had changed the way orchestral music was realised on screen. The films reveal Karajan’s work at its vital and imaginative best. They are also a visual reminder of some of the qualities which the critic of the Salzburger Volksblatt had noted in Karajan’s debut concert in 1929: “Not a declamatory conductor but a leader of suggestive power”, “baton technique and posture calm”, “the primeval power of his musicality”. Forty years on, all this – and more – is vividly on display.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Karajan conducts Ravel and Debussy 1978 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

During the 30-year-old Herbert von Karajan’s first encounter with the Berliner Philharmoniker in April 1938, he asked for separate sectional rehearsals in the suite from Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloé. The players were not amused, claiming that they knew the piece perfectly well. Karajan recalled: “With all the impudence of youth, I replied, ‘Well, we’ll see, shall we?’. I then went straight to the hardest sections with the violas, and they couldn’t manage them at all.” The performance was a triumph. Berlin’s most respected independent critic Heinrich Strobel wrote that he could not recall hearing a more atmospheric, more brilliantly coloured or more dazzlingly exact reading than this.

It was Karajan’s aim during his 33 years with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which he took over from Wilhelm Furtwängler in 1955, to create individual sound “palettes” for individual composers, and nowhere more so than in the music of such early 20th-century masters as Debussy, Ravel, Sibelius, Strauss and Puccini. His conducting of Debussy’s haunting and musically revolutionary Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune was widely admired by fellow musicians. The distinguished Wagner conductor Reginald Goodall marvelled at a performance which was “ice-cold” yet which also conveyed what he called “the heat of the hot, burning Grecian sun”. Watching Karajan conducting this or the larger ensemble required by Debussy in a movement such as “Jeux de vagues” from La Mer (another Karajan speciality, abetted by his own specialist knowledge of sailing and the sea) is particularly instructive. The film was made in 1978, the year in which he finally recorded in Berlin a work which was also very close to his heart, Debussy’s death-haunted opera Pelléas et Mélisande.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Karajan conducts Brahms’s Symphonies Nos. 1–4 1973 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Brahms tradition goes back to the orchestra’s earliest years when in 1887 Brahms’s friend and musical ally Hans von Bülow became its artistic director. As Herbert von Karajan was fond of pointing out, Brahms and Bülow did not always see eye to eye about the interpretation of Brahms’s music. Bülow was a stickler for strict tempi; Brahms was more given to what he himself called “slowings and accelerations”. Two inspirational conductors followed Bülow in Berlin, Arthur Nikisch (1895–1922) and Wilhelm Furtwängler (1922–54), a noted Brahmsian much given to “slowings and accelerations”. It was a style of playing – rooted in a rich, rounded orchestral sound and a willingness to move freely between tempi within a single commanding pulse – which Karajan inherited and made his own.

The First Symphony, over which Brahms laboured so long, is an openly passionate work. It is also the symphony which Karajan conducted more than any other. In his early years he used it as a musical calling-card at important debut concerts in Aachen (1934), Amsterdam (1938) and Vienna (1946). It was also the work with which he concluded the opening concert of his own and the Berliner Philharmoniker’s first ever North American tour in Washington in February 1955

Away from complete cycles, Karajan conducted the Third Symphony relatively infrequently. This was not the case, however, where the lyrical Second and the fateful Fourth were concerned. Karajan loved both works and rarely conducted a less than memorable performance of either. At his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker on 8 April 1938, the programme concluded with the Fourth. Writing in the Berliner Tageblatt, the distinguished critic Heinrich Strobel praised the performance for its “rhythmic inexorability”, its “incredible musical energy” and the “intensity of its melodic shaping”.

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