Karajan made very impressive digital recording of Serenade for Strings and 1812 Overture, but these stereo version made in 1967 surpasses it in many ways. The opening chorus of 1812, sung by Don Kosaken, has wonderful coarseness of Russian orthodox church. That is followed by utterly gripping playing by BPO and Karajan builds up the sense of drama masterfully, leading to the overwhelmingly powerful climax.
The performance of Serenade for Strings is simply mind blowing and I've never come across any performance of such intensity, awe-inspiring beauty and elan. In the both performances, you can really feel the sense of freedom and abandon - Karajan let go of any restraint and let the orchestra reach its full potential. BPO sounded so gloriously wild and full of life in 60s, compared to the tame sound it makes under Simon Rattle! The sound quality is surprisingly rich and warm.