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Not such a stellar experiance
on 22 June 2008
I am probably one of the few not to be overwhelmed by Karajan's Berlin 'Planets'. The sound is sumptuous, but there is much amiss below the surface.
Listening carefully, with score in hand, one has the distinct impression that some of the movements were under-prepared, judging by the looseness of the ensemble at times, the sprinkling of split notes and the odd wrong entry. There is also the near-catastrophy at the big climax in Mars where not everybody resolves the suspension on the second bar of the 5/2 - something that clearly should have been re-taken. I do not get any sense of committment here and I have to confess to preferring Karajan's 1961 Vienna recording, although that is not without its blemishes, including the conductor's misunderstanding of the tempo at rehearsal figure V. The Berlin recording sounds to me as if the orchestra is just playing the notes, whereas their Viennese colleagues do seem to be trying to make something out of the piece (and, despite Ray Minshull's assertation in his booklet note that the players were unfamiliar with 'The Planets', many of them would have recorded the suite with Sir Adrian Boult in 1959 for the Westminster label, wearing their Vienna State Opera Orchestra hats).