Top positive review
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Sublime & Deeply Felt Performances!!!
on 22 May 2009
If I have to pick one Karajan CD as my desert island disc, this is the one. His earlier stereo recording of Tod & Verklarung and Metamorphosen is impressive in its own way, but this digital version surpasses it. In the both works, the way Karajan captures all subtle nuances and ebb and flow in the music verges on the miraculous.
In Tod & Verklarung, BPO's woodwinds play like a dream, brass is gloriously vivid, strings make heavenly sound, bass is always emphasized to create depth and grandeur. The music culminates in mind blowingly overwhelmming, massive finale with extra thrust which other conductors always fail to add. As far as I know Reiner and Jarvi come very close to Karajan's account, and Abbado made outstanding recording with DG (sadly deleted) with even greater ending, but overall this recording towers over the rest for the sheer richness and the depth of music making.
I don't know why, but each time I listen to this particular recording of Metamorphosen, the final scene in Hesse's Demian (of the soldier dying in a battle place) comes to my mind. Under Karajan, the whole music becomes a kaleidoscope of flashbacks seen by a dying soldier. Karajan, who must have witnessed the devastation of war-torn Berlin himself, captures this elegiac atmosphere like no other conductors. The timing of the awe-inspiring moment of silence - just before the final climax - is perfect! The brisk tempo increases the sense of urgency and the trance-like intensity.
Both performances are beautifully recorded with huge dynamic range and sumptuous sound quality.
If you'd like to explore different recordings of the works, Karajan's DECCA version of T&V, Fritz Reiner's DECCA&RCA Living Stereo recordings, Abbado, Ashkenazy and Jarvi's digital recordings, and Klemperer's very unique account of Metamorphosen are well worth listening. Maazel also made outstanding RCA recording of T&V together with amazing recordings of Strauss' other Tone Poems.