This is the set made with analogue recording equipment in the mid 1960's. They were recorded, like the 1970's analogue set on EMI, in the Jesus-Christus-Kirche. Both of these sets have been remastered, this one using 24 bit technology as opposed to the Original Bit Imaging favoured on other DGG discs.
On the face of it, one would expect the EMI recording to have the edge as sound simply because it is the later recording done in the same venue and also being analogue. That is not the case as the EMI recording becomes uncomfortably edgy on the top range at climatic points (the start of the fourth symphony will suffice) and with a strange tendency to 'glassiness' (check the timpani roll before the final section of the fifth symphony for this)on some textures including the timpani and trumpets when played loudly. Additionally, the EMI recording allows far more of the church echo to intrude and this results in too much resonance on the lower strings in particular with a consequent loss of detail as regards notes played (pitch). In all of these respects they remind me of the LP set I once owned of these recordings which had the same characteristics.
The DGG remastered discs are far clearer and truthful in all of these respects and this applies throughout the two sets. I have spent two weeks doing A/B comparisons to prepare for this possible contentious comparison as I wanted to be absolutely sure. I have no previous knowledge of this set.
The performances themselves are surprisingly different bearing in mind usual Karajan's consistency. The EMI recording offers far more driven and dramatic performances that, in a way, suit the closer recorded balance. However this can also be over-bearing and certainly larger than life while at the same time lacking in internal detail especially when compared to the more natural balances of the earlier DGG set. That set, while still rising impressively to climatic moments, offers a far more balletic view at times such as in the third movement of the sixth symphony.
One other disc has crossed my path and that is the analogue 1970's DGG recording of the fifth symphony that I also own. As a performance it falls between the other two described above and is a satisfactory example of the Philharmonie venue as regards sound. This is not to everyone's taste and I have no wish to take sides other than to say that I enjoy the performance and have not found the recording to be a problem to that enjoyment. I have not heard symphonies 4 and 6 from that set and therefore cannot comment further.
I have now finally deleted the EMI set from my collection for the sonic reasons as described above and have kept the 1960's DGG set plus the single fifth also mentioned above. There are other conductors that I would recommend but that is a different story .........
This is not the only answer but I offer the above comparisons to try and give some objective reasons for making a choice.
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