Ü: Commemorating the 25th anniversary of Herbert von Karajan’s death

Jul 16, 2014 | Sabine Wiedemann News Ü: Commemorating the 25th anniversary of Herbert von Karajan’s death

​Details to the productions:

aud. 23.415 (2CDs) Edition Herbert von Karajan Vol. I - G. Verdi: Requiem

Karajan's first recording of the Verdi Requiem was made at a time when he was laboriously rebuilding his career. It harbours not only echoes of the war but the uncertainties of the post-war period. Nevertheless the expressive power and spontaneity of the performance reveal a conductor who commands his audience no less than his orchestra.
This live recording was made in 1949 at the Salzburg Festival with outstanding singers of the time: Hilde Zadek, a very young recently hired by the Vienna State Opera; Margarete Klose, a singer equally admired by Furtwängler; Helge Rosvaenge, the busiest tenor of the period; and the great Boris Christoff.

aud. 95.602 (CD) Edition Herbert von Karajan Vol. II - W. A. Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 & Symphony No. 41 'Jupiter Symphony'

The present studio production was recorded on the occasion of the Mozart anniversary in 1956 when the orchestra gave three concerts from January 21st to 23rd. It shows Karajan as a Mozart interpreter of great stature and striking originality. Karajan discovered in Mozart's scores not only a great wealth of orchestral timbres but the musical structure within these colors. His presentation is absolutely faithful to the text and subtle in its phrasing. Together with the Berlin Philharmonic Karajan sculpts the forms with utmost sensitivity to the sound. Shunning rhetoric and virtuosity, Karajan's Mozart has a magic all its own that never once becomes mawkish or sentimental. The pianist in the D-minor Concerto, Wilhelm Kempff, is an equally superb artist of intimately gradated color.
Herbert von Karajan was not the least problematic of Mozart conductors. His late recordings in particular sound as if he wanted to transfer the late-romantic sound of Wagner, Bruckner, and Strauss to Mozart's refined classicism. However, the performance presented here with its stylistic balance between surging sound and attentive instrumental dialogue, has even today a claim on more than just historical interest.

aud. 23.414 (2CDs) Edition Herbert von Karajan Vol. III - L. v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 ('Eroica') & No. 9

These recordings of two Beethoven symphonies date from a period of change in the history of the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwängler was again its official principal conductor, but his declining health and other personal reasons left him unable to supervise the orchestra on a continuous basis. Ever since his first encounter with the Berlin Philharmonic Herbert von Karajan wanted nothing more than to be its principal conductor. These recordings shed light on his early work with the orchestra as a visiting conductor and as the successor to Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Karajan's first post-war concert with the orchestra, featuring Beethoven's Eroica, on 8 September 1953 reveals not only the actual condition of the orchestra but also what Karajan was able to accomplish as a conductor in this situation. At the time Karajan was mainly busy with the London Philharmonia Orchestra and raved about its virtuosity. Yet, in the Berlin Philharmonic, he discovered dimensions that transcended virtuosity, powers of expression that went beyond rehearsal levels in the moment of performance.

At the time of the live-recording of Beethoven's Ninth, performed in the auditorium of the Berlin Musikhochschule on 25 April 1957 to celebrate the orchestra's seventy-fifth anniversary, Karajan was already the orchestra's principal conductor. The orchestra was in a phase of tedious remodeling caused by Karajan's attempts to shape the sound of the orchestra according to his musical philosophy. Beethoven's Ninth, with a sterling quartet of vocal soloists, has a large-scale command of form and a dense, coherent sound that reveal Karajan well on his way to the first complete recording of the symphonies.

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