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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sound Odyssey
This is an amazing recording of a thrilling and underrated symphonic poem. The incredible sonorities which Karajan extracts from the Berlin Philharmonic are a joy to behold. The work features highlights which rank with the best of any of his orchestral compositions.
The depiction of the sunrise that opens the work recalls the power of the famous introduction to...
Published on 8 July 2002 by superbishy

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music, wonderful conductor, poor recording
Wonderful music, wonderful conduction by Herbert von Karajan, very poor digital re-mastering (as often occurs) which is lacking of most low frequences. Too "digital".
Published 18 months ago by Luca58


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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sound Odyssey, 8 July 2002
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
This is an amazing recording of a thrilling and underrated symphonic poem. The incredible sonorities which Karajan extracts from the Berlin Philharmonic are a joy to behold. The work features highlights which rank with the best of any of his orchestral compositions.
The depiction of the sunrise that opens the work recalls the power of the famous introduction to Also Sprach Zarathustra. The 20 descriptive episodes that follow fill the listener with a tremendous sense of adventure. The awesome climaxes which Karajan and the BPO generate during the 'On the summit' and 'Vision' sections may just blow your socks off. After the lyrical 'Sunset' and 'Epilogue' sections the work closes where it began: in the hushed and shadowy sound-world of night.
I would whole-heartedly recommend this recording to anyone with an interest in Strauss, or the genre of the symphonic poem. The recording itself cannot be faulted.
Most music reference books do not list An Alpine Symphony as a recommended work. It has been criticised as a piece that is more a succession of highlights rather than an integrated work. I feel this is unfair as the same argument could be levelled at many of Strauss's symphonic poems given the descriptive depth of detail contained in the music which often portrays vastly differing episodes in the programme, frequently in succession (surely Don Quixote, Ein Heldenleben and Also Sprach Zarathustra suffer from the same problems?).
I urge you to listen to An Alpine Symphony and make up your own mind. In my opinion this work - like the remainder of Strauss's symphonic poems - is one of continued inspiration and invention. And with Karajan on top form with the BPO, this is truly an unforgettable sound odyssey.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stupendous view from the summit, 5 Oct. 2008
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
Recorded in 1981, this is the best version of this five-star work I possess. The murmurings in the deep bass prior to the dawn seem clearer that in my other versions, so that I can hear such things as solo tremolo strings in the mix. There is a blazing sunrise, but the cellos then sound a little tinny once the ascent commences. Perhaps the sound is constrained by the 1980s technology. The hunting horns, however, sound wonderful.

Not everything is perfect. The brass leading up to the waterfall sound strangely winded and there are bum notes here and there. The view from the summit is stupendous, but again one senses some restraint in the sound. The trumpet solo is wonderfully well to the fore in the `Vision' section. The storm is scarily dramatic and the sunset rightfully rich. The epilogue is beautifully played.

This may be the best interpretation in my collection, but it is well over twenty years old now and there is room for improvement. I am seeking a broader vision that I have yet to hear on CD. Nonetheless, for now, this one is the one I will pull out of the collection if I want to go hiking in the Alps.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Karajan's very best, even possibly the best, Strauss discs., 18 May 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
This disc, recorded in 1981, contains an absolutely riveting performance of this pictorial symphony. The original issues were over-bright and suffered from that extreme of digital processing. However, the new 'Gold' remastering has solved those problems leaving the listener free to enjoy the performance given by a master Strauss interpreter and played by an orchestra renowned for such works at the top of their very considerable form.

The music is cruelly demanding of orchestral virtuosity and only the best orchestras can really deliver Strauss' alpine vision. One of the problems is to avoid the feeling of anti-climax as the music closes quietly long after achieving moments of great sonic climax. Karajan was a master of long-term strategy of this sort and that ability is admirably demonstrated by this disc.

There have been other fine recordings of this work over the years and recording companies have been keen to demonstrate their technical prowess with this piece. Kempe, Solti, Thielemann and Witt are all good examples of successful recordings allied to strong interpretations. However, Karajan's view can still claim to have the most exciting interpretation of all aided by an orchestra that really does rise to the interpretive peaks demanded of them.

I would suggest that, whatever other discs may be in the short-list for comparison and purchase, this disc by Karajan offers something very special and deserves to be included in the shortest of short-lists.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karajan's great recording, 27 July 2009
By 
Scriabinmahler (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
There are more violent Alpine journeys by Solti, Ashkenazy and Mravinsky, but this monumental recording by Karajan/BPO is the one I always come back to, for its rarified beauty, incomparable atmosphere, and the sheer sublimity of the music making. If you love Strauss' tone poems, this is definitely a must-buy alongside Haitink's towering, noble account of the same work.

It's a shame that this Karajan Gold reissue has lost some of the magical atmosphere of the very first original issue, while enhancing clarity of the sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Because it's there!", 17 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
On the afternoon of June 8, 1924, George Leigh Mallory was faced with a decision. He and Andrew Irvine were above the Second Step of Everest. Light was fading. Their oxygen was depleted. And yet the "Third Pole" was ever so close. With three children at home, this would be his third and last assault on the peak. What was a man to do? As his friend Geoffrey Young wrote: "After nearly twenty years' knowledge of Mallory as a mountaineer, I can say that difficult as it would have been for any mountaineer to turn back, with the only difficulty past, to Mallory it would have been an impossibility."

There is a madness here, or "summit-fever" that is particular to the profession. Is it not amazing that the near-sedentary Richard Strauss, lord of Skat, incarnated it so successfully in Opus 64?

Karajan was an amateur mountaineer in his own right. When coupled with his customary intensity, tension and farsightedness, they make an indelible Alpine Symphony. I'll never set foot on Everest or K2 - this is surely the best approximation there is (why risk the Khumbu Icefall when `Auf dem Gletscher' is at hand?) I've heard many performances of Opus 64; nothing can match this version for its sense of danger, transcendence and consummation. Note perfect it ain't, but Berlin Phil goes the tonk: listen to the series of chords at Track 2 1'24"ff or - blaze up of blaze ups - the Entry into the Forest: that's glory. The Storm is cosmic in scale. All things converge in the finale, leaving one transfigured from the journey, peril and triumph.

Incontestably, this is the greatest performance of Opus 64 on disc; the same could not be said of its sound-quality. It was never a natural-sounding affair. The original recording was tighter than an ant's bum. The "Gold" remastering of 1993 worked wonders on it, imparting much-needed air and depth. Nevertheless, if you're on the market for high-end HiFi equipment, leave this disc at home.

Let's close with a quote from Mallory: "One comes to bless the absolute bareness, feeling that here is a pure beauty of form, a kind of ultimate harmony."

Climb and ascend!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL!!, 27 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
I have several recordings of this piece, and yet have only just discovered this version. Goodness, what I have been missing! It's absolutely wonderful. Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic have captured what Strauss was trying to convey when he composed this Symphony.
I can't believe that anyone who has experienced the absolute magic of a sunrise, could fail to be moved when they listen to movements 1) Night, 2) Sunrise, 3) The ascent. I have never heard it played like this, and I have been fortunate enough to hear it played live twice as well..
I would heartily recommend this recording. It was written for a big Orchestra, and the Berlin Phil certainly do Strauss proud...!
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WoahawoahwoahAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 9 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
There is only on thing to do with this CD: turn your hifi as loud as you can bear and submit yourself to probably the most thrilling experience ever achieved in audio. Awesome is an overused word but that is how it is when that sun rises ! Listening to the the BPO at full pelt is like being strapped to a Saturn 5 rocket and descending the Matterhorn in a nose first lube at the same time. There are many other wonders along the way including the most terrifying moment in "The Vision". It feels like Karajan is pushing us into some truly frightening crevasse as the BPO's strings scare the living daylights out of you in a breathtaking climax that you fear and hope will never end. It is the first time I have felt like hiding behind my chair since I saw the Daleks. My only reservation comes in the later quieter passages where the woodwind sound exhausted. Well, who wouldnt be ! This has to be heard to be believed. So strap those tennis rackets on and burnish your crampons - you sure gonna need 'em !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 7 Jan. 2015
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
The status of this recording as one of the earliest digital classics was initially compromised by the shrill, shallow sound which made the violins shriek and was literally a pain in the ears; since then, it has been happily remastered to surprisingly satisfactory effect, which allows this recording to reclaim its spot. I don't usually subscribe to the "best ever" mentality but just a few recordings merit that title and this remains the most spectacular of all accounts of this show-off tone poem.

An atmosphere of profound mystery is established from the start by the bassoons and double bases growling above the strings' sustained F in the B minor cluster, resolving to B flat major chord then a glorious A major diapason depicting the sunrise. In fact there are so many such moments in this account that it would be superfluous to detail them all, but to mention one at random, "On the summit" is simply overwhelming with its aureate brass, stringendo strings and extraordinary sonorities. The whole recording is just one grand, astounding sweep of virtuosic playing from the BPO and Das Wunder Karajan is in full control without in any sense stifling the rapture of their sound or the virulence of their attack.

It belongs in the collection of every Strauss aficionado.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb performance of a hugely underrated work, 8 Oct. 2014
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
I'd read about the production of this performance, as well as many reviews down the years, but only recent got around to purchasing the CD. I have to say it deserves all the accolades it has earned, both in terms of performance and recording. A really enjoyable experience, the work of a master orchestrator performed superbly by the BPO & Karajan at the height of their powers.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true test of your sound system, 4 Dec. 2009
By 
This review is from: R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie [An Alpine Symphony] (Audio CD)
This is a listening experience unique in the world of classical music and is a test of any sound system and its ability to pick up on tiny nuances as well as cope with the potentially colossal volume of a well honed orchestra, The Berlin Phil.

Describing an allegorical journey to the mountain peak Strauss takes us on a kind of Pilgrim's progress, through the colourful alpine meadows, past the sparkling streams to the foot of the formidable peak that appears through the clouds. Then the intrepid journey upwards and one of the most stunning musical descriptions of the calm before the storm, an approaching storm, the turbulence of a full scale blizzard and then finally the emergence from the clouds once more of the mighty peak.

Karajan still lives with us through this wonderful and unique interpretation and to date there has never been anything to touch it.You won't be disappointed in fact I feel sure that you will be absolutely thrilled. If you haven't got a particularly good sound system, be warned, this recording may just be the catalyst to send you rushing out to buy one.
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