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  • Herbert Von Karajan: Strauss - Tone Poems [DVD] [2008]
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Herbert Von Karajan: Strauss - Tone Poems [DVD] [2008]


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Product details

  • Format: Box set, Classical, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: German, French, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Sony Bmg
  • DVD Release Date: 19 May 2008
  • Run Time: 190 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000X9VTLM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,216 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Herbert Von Karajan conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker performing Richard Strauss's Tone Poems.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jorma Koskinen on 8 May 2009
Verified Purchase
The contents of this boxed set are:
Disc 1 has An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensymphonie) from an All Soul's Day concert in 1983 and Thus Spoke Zarathustra from the opening concert of the 750th Anniversary of Berlin in 1987.
Disc 2 has Don Quixote 1983 and Ein Heldenleben (A Heroic Life) 1987.
Disc 3 has Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration) and Metamorphoses for 23 solo strings from All Soul's Day 1984.

For this reissue the powers that be took the extraordinary measure of re-recording all works in the original venue, the Philharmonie in Berlin, so that the original music was played through carefully placed loudspeakers and the recording microphones were placed in an orchestra-like array to better catch the acoustics of the hall. The original and the rerecording were then mixed in carefully tailored proportions by a secret recipe to produce "an impressive spatial homogeneity".

All this finesse however, is lost to the average listener. The playing sounds muffled as if coming from the next room. There is very little orchestral detail and the strings are often overpowered by the wind section and sometimes not audible at all. I wonder if the engineers had actually heard a live symphony concert in the Philharmonie or if they were just overjoyed by the measurements of their technical equipment. "The pleasant frequency extension towards the low end" is nowhere to be heard. Impressive frequency measurements do not always produce good, let alone natural sound. In this case the lustre of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra is lost completely and has been replaced by what sounds like a below average mono sound from the early 1950's. In other words these sound like historic instead of historical recordings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fuenterino on 7 Nov. 2014
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It is a shame that Karajan's "Legacy For Home Video" has been largely made in his "twilight years;" the Unitel/DG series caught Karajan more at his peak. In Don Quixote, for example, Karajan has been partnered by Rostropovich and Pierre Fournier, no less.The 1960's recording with Pierre Fournier was particularly ravishing, gorgeous and aristocratic. This Sony series doesn't even say who the cellist is (the packaging of this entire series is especially bad ! Still, the DVDs are usually very good value, even though the price hurtles around like a drunken lunatic !) Nevertheless, in my opinion, Herbert von Karajan was the greatest Strauss conductor of all time and, even in his later years, he never lost that. Indeed, in some instances, (Ein Heldenleben, for example) Karajan's understanding of and command of the music has become almost supernatural ! Nobody could ever quibble with this: the Master's last word on the subject. His command and control of the orchestra may have been even more awesome in the 1960's and 1970's but his final words on Strauss have a glowing depth, majesty and authority. It became clear, at the end, that Richard Strauss and Anton Bruckner were his favourite composers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Musically splendid Strauss region free 12 Jun. 2009
By Jorma Koskinen - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is a region free issue, but your system needs to be PAL compatible. Recent computers and DVD players are automatically able to play PAL discs. Sometimes you have to configure older players in the Set up menu to play in multi system mode. If you have an older TV many players can be changed to play PAL discs in NTSC mode. Most systems have no problems with these discs.

The contents of this 3 disc boxed set are:
Disc 1 has An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensymphonie) from an All Soul's Day concert in 1983 and Thus Spoke Zarathustra from the opening concert of the 750th Anniversary of Berlin in 1987.
Disc 2 has a 1983 Don Quixote and a 1987 Heroic Life (Ein Heldenleben).
Disc 3 has Death and Transfiguration (Tod und Verklärung) and Metamorphoses for 23 solo strings from All Soul's Day in 1984.

For this reissue the powers that be took the extraordinary measure of re-recording all works in the original venue, the Philharmonie in Berlin, so that the original music was played through carefully placed loudspeakers and the recording microphones were placed in an orchestra-like array to better catch the acoustics of the hall. The original and the rerecording were then mixed in carefully tailored proportions by a secret recipe to produce "an impressive spatial homogeneity".

All this finesse however, is lost to the average listener. The playing sounds muffled as if coming from the next room. There is very little orchestral detail and the strings are often overpowered by the wind and brass sections and sometimes not audible at all. I wonder if the engineers had actually heard a live symphony concert in the Philharmonie or if they were just overjoyed by the measurements shown by their modern equipment. "The pleasant frequency extension towards the low end" is nowhere to be heard. Impressive frequency measurements do not always produce good, let alone natural sound. In this case the lustre of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra is lost and has been replaced by what sounds rather like an above average mono sound from the early 1950's. In other words these sound like historical instead of historic recordings. The picture quality (4:3 ratio) is not what we would expect today. At times the colours are grey and dull, the definition foggy. If you have the original issues, stick to them, these are lower quality reissues.

Right after these I listened to the DVD of a Haitink Mahler concert by the same orchestra in the same hall only a couple of years later in the early 90's and the difference in technical quality is striking. The sound is spacious with ample room from the quietest violin solo to massive tutti attacks. The clarity of orchestral detail and a picture with natural colours are maintained throughout with the same old 4:3 TV technique. Not so in these Strauss recordings. As far as the production, sound and picture qualities are concerned this is a disappointment and should no longer be acceptable by today's standards.

However, the music making is a totally different matter. These are vintage performances by the foremost Straussian conductor of the late 20th century. For any devoted Strauss enthusiast this is a must if you do not have the original DVDs. Never mind the technical faults, these recordings are of great stature and musically highly satisfactory. Few conductors are able to keep a steady momentum and forward drive in the final peroration of the transfiguration part in Death and Transfiguration. The way von Karajan builds the slow, long crescendo with each section of the orchestra entering and re-entering with carefully balanced power one after another to form a continuously increasing sound volume is impressive indeed. The last part of Ein Heldenleben, the Hero's Retreat from the World and Fulfilment, with its hauntingly beautiful string melody and final violin solo are a combination of such ripe tenderness and sensitivity with world weary wisdom that can only be achieved after a life time of study of the score. Karajan made at least four studio recordings of the work between 1950 and his death.

This is a real bargain and very good value for money. Had the technical quality been better this would have been a five star recommendation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Region coding works just fine 6 Jun. 2008
By A. Fordham - Published on Amazon.com
Contrary to the previous review, this is, in fact, and all-region DVD. While it is a PAL disc, it works just fine in both my DVD player and my computer.

The sound on these DVDs is quite nice. The only real problem is the fact that the audio doesn't quite match up with the video. That's fairly distracting. Otherwise, this is a pretty interesting find. It seems as though they took the old videos and remastered the audio. They then, set up a sound system on the stage where it was recorded and played back the audio, while recording. This allowed them to record in surround sound using the actual acoustics of the hall in which it was recorded. Pretty clever!
6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
WARNING: This DVD is a PAL Region 2 DVD, not an All Region NTSC compatible DVD as advertised 7 April 2008
By Ronald J. Kaye - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Despite Amazon's descriptive annotation on this DVD set, which states that it is a NTSC compatible ALL-REGION DVD, I discovered otherwise when I
tried to play it on my Region I DVD player.....it is in fact a PAL disc, meaning that it is the Region 2 type of DVD playable in the UK. Since I took off the shrinkwrap, I'm doubtful that Amazon will allow me to return it, so it looks like it's $40 down the drain for me (unless I opt for a new region free DVD player).
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