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KARAJAN HERBERT VON / BERLIN P
Top Customer Reviews
The Berlin play with amazing power and refinement, but colours are often very dark, there is no feeling of skating over the surface. As in his (mighty) recording of the Sixth Symphony Karajan seems to know instinctively when to give the music room to breathe, and where to make sure textures lighten. A very fine recording indeed.
He generates extraordinary intensity and momentum towards the climax of the second movement; this showcases the BPO in its absolute heyday before it was partially emasculated by a succession of conductors intent upon temporising its famous Klang. The third movement is rambunctious, chaotic and drunk with the sheer joy of invention - it takes some skill to encompass mayhem with such precision and unanimity. Remember: Karajan was also a master of the "other" Strauss, Johann, and applies ritenuto and rallentando to perfection. The Adagietto is suffused with a long-breathed serenity, dangerously etiolated without ever dragging; how those strings sing! The exposition of that final long melody, with its exquisite cadence, is like an angel's sigh. The finale is a riot of fairground jollity akin to Holst's "Jupiter"; fat with a jovian plenitude of good humour and motoring towards an explosive celebration of life - how different from the conclusion of the next symphony.
OK; so you gather I like this recording? I'm not saying it's the best; I also love Shipway, Abbado with the CPO, Barshai and Solti - all provide slightly different experiences - but you cannot go wrong with this classic.
So there you have it. Not an obvious front runner but a safe choice nevertheless. But then it would be foolish to nominate a front runner for fear of the hornet's nest that would provoke.
If there is room for only one interpretation of this work, I would still recommend Bernstein's DG recording with the Vienna Philharmonic. But this work is bigger than any single performance of it, and Karajan's reading of the score reveals facets that don't figure in Bernstein's world.