Between 1961 and 1986, Herbert von Karajan made three recordings of the Mozart Requiem for Deutsche Grammophon, with little change in his conception of the piece over the years. This recording, from 1975, is, on balance, the best of them. The approach is Romantic, broad, and sustained, marked by a thoroughly homogenized blend of chorus and orchestra, a remarkable richness of tone, striking power, and an almost marmoreal polish. Karajan viewed the Requiem as idealized church music rather than a confessional statement awash in operatic expressiveness. In this account, the orchestra is paramount, followed in importance by the chorus, then the soloists. Not surprisingly, the singing of the solo quartet sounds somewhat reined-in, especially considering these singers' pedigrees. By contrast, the Vienna Singverein, always Karajan's favorite chorus, sings with a huge dynamic range and great intensity, though with an emotional detachment nonetheless. Perfection, if not passion or poignancy, is the watchword. The Berlin orchestra plays majestically, and the sound is pleasingly vivid.
Recorded live in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on June 29, 1985 at High Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II, Herbert von Karajan conducts the Vienna Philharmonic for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Coronation Mass. The performance features Agnes Baltsa, Trudeliese Schmidt, Gösta Winbergh, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Wiener Singverein.
Cavalleria Rusticana: Magnificently sung, subtly played and dramatically acted… The passion of Sicily, fanned into a bonfire by one of the world's most brilliant conductors and great cast (New York Post).
Pagliacci: An interpretation of exceptionally strong emotions and artistic quality (Il Giorno). Vickers is outstanding, delivering 'Vesti la giubba' with unusual sensitivity and admirable restraint. Kabaivanska and Glossop are also impressive (New York Times).
In his sumptuous filming of Puccini's opera, directer Jean-Pierre Ponnelle uses an array of cinematic effects (including a memorable dream sequence) to evoke the protagonists' irreconcilably separate lives and worlds. As Butterfly, Mirella Freni is unbearably moving in one of the finest performances of her career, while Plácido Domingo makes Lt. Pinkerton a more sympathetic figure then usual.
DG's 20-bit transfer reveals more tape hiss than before, while the orchestral image is better focused, with more definition at the bottom end. Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments. He achieves revelations of horizontal clarity, allowing no contrapuntal strand to emerge with an unwanted accent or a miscalibrated dynamic…
Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments. He achieves revelations of horizontal clarity, allowing no contrapuntal strand to emerge with an unwanted accent or a miscalibrated dynamic. The texts are unusually pinpointed and distinct, although the singers don't convey the experience and dimension of Sir Georg Solti's cast on London. There are exceptions.
Eight great symphonic cycles from the master conductor of our age in one box. Includes CD booklet with tracklists. The edition contains some of Karajans finest interpretations of Complete Symphonic Cycles by Beethoven (1970s), Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.