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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Little Russian, 24 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
I have had these discs for some months now but have only recently come to fully appreciate their qualities. Firstly you need to turn up the volume level a bit more than usual because the recording level seems lower than many discs. Once this is done the sound is very good with fine separation of instruments and a wide dynamic range. These first three symphonies are generally thought lesser than the three that follow. They are probably less confident in the writing but they contain wonderful music nevertheless. These performances by the BPO under Karajan do not overplay the simple passages but can blaze out when required and some of the solo woodwind playing is superb. There are several versions of these symphonies available today from Russian orchestras and these must be considered. However, Karajan and the BPO (despite the vintage) take some beating.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As one might expect, Karajan isn't too worried about charm, opting instead for grand vision, 14 Jan. 2012
By 
Andrew R. Barnard (Leola, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
A conductor's greatest strength is almost always his great weakness. In the case of Karajan, his unparalleled gifts of concentration and vision can cause him to sometimes miss the fun and humor in the music. And charm is a desired ingredient in the early Tchaikovsky symphonies. These early symphonies are bursting with bright spirits, but Karajan isn't going to try to elaborate on this side of the masterpieces. Hardly any effort is expended with a goal of enriching the youthful daintiness that Tchaikovsky incorporated into his scores.

For some, this lack of charm spells doom for Karajan. I can easily understand those who find this a total failure. I don't think civility is what Tchaikovsky had in mind when he wrote those works, but Karajan seems to think so. But the absence of charm isn't the same as the absence of interesting ideas. Karajan certainly does have plenty of ideas. His great ability of recognizing the long flow of drama in the music is decidedly present. Rather than treating these symphonies as the youthful ideas of a young composer, Karajan makes the music very confident. He's anxious that Tchaikovsky be given the benefit of the doubt, so he gives the music the same power and breadth that he would give to Bruckner, or the latter Tchaikovsky symphonies, for that matter. And with an orchestra of the caliber of Berlin, all of his visions come alive seething with grandeur. Far from anemic music making, Karajan achieves a tight intensity of control, with the Berliners' digging into their music as if their lives depended on it.

Some see Karajan's approach as one that tames these symphonies. In a sense they're right, because most of the entertaining aspects of the music are suppressed. One isn't likely to smile while listening to Karajan's tightly contained control. But on the other hand, Karajan is unleashing such sweeping power that the symphonies are especially big in scope. This results in playing that is civilized but never casual or weak--never. To my ears, Karajan fits the 2nd symphony better than the rest, but all sound interesting.

In closing, Karajan has missed one of the most important ingredients in these symphonies, but he's replaced everything that is missing with astonishing power and vigor. One thing's certain: you won't be falling asleep listening music making this majestic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karajan makes Tchaikovsky music, 5 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
I have tried the already classic Jansons versions of these three earlier and often neglected works, but it was only Karajan that convinced me that this is worthy symphonic music in its own right. The Slavonic hysteria may be underplayed, but Karajan gives these works symphonic cohesion and for all their excellence, Jansons and his Oslo Orchestra cannot quite match the sheer opulence of the Berlin Philharmonic. Quite superb.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tchaikovsky, 14 Mar. 2013
By 
Brian Wootton (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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Very good, I'm very pleased to include this CD's worth in my music library, especially the Capriccio Italien, I've now got over 30GB of classical music and this one gets played fairly often.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great production, 14 Oct. 2014
By 
Prospero77 "Prosp77" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
Wonderful textures to these symphonies. They perhaps don't get the play of Mahler and Beethoven on national radio but I thoroughly enjoyed exploring these.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Dec. 2014
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Mr. Vincent Waterfall "Oregolac" (Exeter UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
As one would expect great performances of these symphonies by the Berlin Philharmonic under Maestro von Karajan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 29 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
The box set of CD's arrived in excellent condition.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 12 Nov. 2014
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Mr. John Harmsen (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
I am quite happy except with the trousers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 31 Dec. 2014
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P. LESTER "tv addict" (Weston-super-Mare, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
very pleased
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy, 21 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2, 3, Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (Audio CD)
As one reviewer said in the Gramophone many years ago 'Karajan makes these symphonies more than just "also runs"'. Quite superb and listening to them on headphones through my computer - wow! The sound so clean and the orchestral playing so precise.
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