From 1976, when Herbert von Karajan – already a legend – met the prodigiously gifted 13-year-old Anne-Sophie Mutter until his death 13 years later, she was the only violinist to appear with him in concert and on disc. This 5-CD set contains all the concertos they recorded together for Deutsche Grammophon. It includes the concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bruch and Brahms; but now, for the first time, there is also the Tchaikovsky Concerto, as well as the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Mark Zeltser and Yo-Yo Ma, and the Brahms Double Concerto with Antonio Meneses.
In light of the "chill-out" trend of the 1990s, major labels released many albums of slow, meditative pieces to appeal to listeners who wanted relaxing or reflective background music. Deutsche Grammophon's vaults are full of exceptional recordings of classical orchestral music, and the performances by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are prominent in the label's catalog. The slow selections on Karajan: Adagio are in most cases drawn from larger compositions, though these movements are frequently anthologized as if they were free-standing works. Indeed, many have come to think of the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 as a separate piece in its own right, largely because of its evocative use in the film Death in Venice. Furthermore, the famous Canon by Johann Pachelbel is seldom played with its original companion piece, the Gigue in D major, let alone in its original version for three violins and continuo; it most often appears in an arrangement for strings.
Admirers of Karajan will probably own most or all of these symphony cycles from what was probably the pinnacle of the conductor's prolific career. However, if you are unfamiliar with Karajan's work, or well enough acquainted with it to desire further exploration, then this amazingly inexpensive anthology can be enthusiastically recommended. I purchased all of these sets when they came out in DG's previous mid-priced "Karajan Symphony Edition," and I can testify to their consistently oustanding quality, both as performances and as interpretations. As recordings, however, it must be admitted that the sound is of variable quality; sometimes admirably vivid and well balanced, but frequently tending toward harshness, even garishness–particularly in those which come from the early digital era (cf. Bruckner's symphonies 1-3). Too bad Universal didn't see fit to give this magnificent legacy a sonic facelift. Still, the performances are sufficiently worthy of your attention to warrant purchase regardless of these sonic limitations.
To celebrate what would have been Herbert von Karajan's 100th birthday on April 5, 2008, EMI has gathered together all of the conductor's recordings for the label in two super-budget boxed sets. Volume 1 weighs in at an imposing 88 discs and focuses on orchestral repertoire (the second volume consists of vocal and operatic works). The first nine discs encompass Karajan's EMI Vienna Philharmonic sessions…
Karajan’s Deutsche Grammophon complete recordings is recorded on chronological order. From the “Magic Flute” overture of the 1938 recording used as first recording to the recording of the last in 1989, and the Symphony No.7 of Bruckner. There is no selling separately. It becomes ordering limited production.
Volume 2 of EMI's comprehensive Herbert von Karajan centenary edition gathers virtually all of the conductor's operatic and vocal output for the label in one place, taking up 71 CDs (Disc 72 contains complete librettos in the form of PDF files). I use the word "virtually" because the package omits four posthumously issued archival items taped live during the 1957-60 Salzburg Festivals (Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, Bruckner's Te Deum, and Verdi's Requiem). Otherwise, it's all here.
Walter Gieseking is joined by stellar wind players, including the great hornist Dennis Brain; and the Quintets have a gleaming, robust quality that make them irresistible. They were recorded in the mid- 1950s, a time when Gieseking sometimes operated on automatic pilot, but here he sounds involved and fluent; the keyboard part played with aristocratic grace and, where appropriate, sparkling high spirits. The filler is one of Herbert von Karajan's few successful Mozart recordings, aided immeasurably by the expert first-desk soloists of the Philharmonia.