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Stravinsky: Rite of Spring; Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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  • Stravinsky: Rite of Spring; Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra
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  • Beethoven: Symphony No.9 'Choral'
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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Nov. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: DG
  • ASIN: B000W99IJI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,556 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

KARAJAN HERBERT VON / BERLIN P

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Karajan and Le Sacre: sounds very diferrent, doesn't it? But, you can believe me, it is definitely "not" dissapointing. If you are an "objective" listener, you will be happy with that Le Sacre version.

First of all, I should say, this Le Sacre is the famous 1964 recording, not from 1977, which is better for sound quality, but more steady, dignified reading, not so risky.

Igor Stravinsky, who recorded the work himself in Sony, criticized that recording as "a pat savage more than real one". Especially, he disliked the tempo of "Ritual of Ancestors", he described it as "tempo di hoochie-koochie"! Well, as we know, Stravinsky hated Romanticisim in music, he was clearly analytic-musician. And Karajan is totally opposite of him! And so, this is why the composer wasn't like that reading. However, everybody doesn't agree the critic of Stravinsky. In the other hand, the cult pianist Glenn Gould, who very much liked that performance, said "the most imaginative and, in a purely compartmentalized sense, inspired realization".

So, when I get this CD, I was confused, but after listening, I really feel respectfully to Karajan's vision. First of all, Berliner Philharmoniker show a truly virtuosic playing. Very harmonious woodwinds, first class brass, very distinct percussion, full of warm strings. They can handle the difficulties, complexities of the score. By the way, there is a risk feeling, which it makes the music more vivid, flamboyant. just check the "Sacrifical Dance", in the last moments, your heart-beats will get faster, you can trust me. Yes, this is sophisticated, but it is a different aspect and it is worth to give a chance of course.

By the way, there is a great performance of a Bartok masterpiece, Concerto for Orchestra, which sounds so rich in that recording.

Highly recommended.
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Although the Bartok has been released previously on Galleria and on The Originals series, astonishingly this is the first CD release for the 1964 Rite of Spring recording since a coupling in the 80's on DG Privilege, for which information I am grateful to correspondent " Envoi"-DG subsequently released the later 1977 version, with the 1964 recording being unavailable for some 25 years.
While dealing with astonishment, while in 2013 the Rite is a stable repertoire piece of more or less every orchestra, in 1964 it was still regarded as a challenging piece for both orchestras and audiences alike, even 50 years after its turbulent premiere. Only the most virtuoso orchestras undertook it, and when the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra recorded it with Pierre Monteux, the playing was ragged and frequently off pitch, though the performance was electrifying. Of course, one thinks immediately that the BPO would have no problems, but this was far from the case. This recording was released to almost as much furore as that of the premiere, with well documented tales of Karajan's struggle with the orchestra in rehearsal. In 1964, the BPO had never played the work, and as many of the orchestra members were pre-war veterans, there was a great deal of resistance to the piece among them in particular-they didn't like it and felt it was a contemptible piece. Younger members were enthused, but the disharmony had to be overcome before a note was performed.
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This is a fantastic coupling of two of the 20th Century's finest orchestral showpieces played by a stunning orchestra and conductor at their 1960s peak. I have enjoyed both but to my surprise enjoyed the Stravinsky more than the Bartok.

Stravinsky was famously sniffy about Karajan's recording. I don't recall why exactly but having read the article in which he rubbished it, he didn't have much time for Bernstein or Solti in this work either. I think it was that he perceived the Berlin Philharmonic to be a Germanic orchestra who were not attuned to the kind of savage balletic work he had conceived. Karajan has explained his aesthetic simply, i.e. that every player ensures that he plays every note to its full value. This performance is as exciting as any but additionally, it is also the most beautiful sounding rendition I have ever heard. While for me it won't displace other fine performances I have heard, I can honestly say that I really enjoyed listening to it and recommend it very highly.

I find it slightly harder to review the Bartok. This would seem on the face of it to be work in which Karajan would excel. He had already recorded it in the 1950s with the Philharmonia and he re-recorded in in the 1970s. It is a showpiece that Bartok wrote in his mature years to display the virtuosity of the Boston Symphony Orchesta and showed how he had completely subsumed the folk idioms of his native Hungary into his compositional style.

For some reason, I did not think that Karajan completely managed to convey everything required. It is of course beautifully played and lovely to hear; its just that I kept feeling that something was missing. I played it twice and both times, I enjoyed a lush Straussian performance but wasn't particularly moved or excited.
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