Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Johann II [Junior] Strauss, Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek, Johann II and Josef Strauss|
The Complete EMI Recordings 1946-1984, Vol. 1: Orchestral [Box Set]
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Classical
A Priceless, Classic Set
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 02/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply put, there is a ton of music here -- 88 CDs comprising the complete EMI orchestral recordings of Herbert von Karajan -- all in a box smaller than a pair of shoes. It will take me the better part of the rest of this year to listen to it all, but as I have already heard 3/4 of this music, I'll start with the things that have never appeared previously on CD, or have just been impossible for me to ever find. By my count, those performances add up to more than a dozen disc's worth of material, including some fascinating material like Kurt Leimer's Piano Concertos and Leopold Mozart's Toy Symphony, plus a Schubert 5th, Dvorak 9th, Tchaikovsky 4-6th and Wagner Excerpts from the 50s/60s to compare to his better known 70s accounts, and entire discs of late mono and early stereo orchestral bonbons from the 1950s with the Philharmonia. Of course, it also features some of the greatest renditions of the repertoire ever made -- the Mozart Horn Concertos with Dennis Brain, his first of four Beethoven Cycles, the early stereo Brahms 2nd and "Unfinished," phenomenal Piano Concertos with Lipatti, Gieseking and Weissenberg, the Don Quixote with Rostropovich, and the famous Beethoven Triple with Richter, Oistrakh and Rostropovich. This set is obviously aimed at the most serious of classical music collectors, and if you fit that bill, do yourself a favor -- trade in those old single discs at a used CD store (or better yet, donate them to your local library), save yourself some shelf space, and get this once in a lifetime set."
An awesome classical treasure
Mehran Omaraie | United States | 04/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A"MUST HAVE" collection for everyone who seriously loves classical music. There are MONO recordings as well as stereo ones but the sound of mono CDs is very satisfying and in many cases they are like recorded recently. If you are new to classical music, don't worry, there are plenty easy listening classical pieces here and over period of time you will fall in love with the rest of the pieces as well. You will get the opportunity to listen to Karajan rehearsing Mozart symphonies with Berliners and that shows how meticulously Karajan dissects the music piece by piece till the players get "it" right. Many many thanks to EMI for achieving this marvelous project. I gave my old single CDs to local library so others could enjoy the marvelous music conducted by maestro Karajan. With the price offered here, this set is a real deal."
Johannes Climacus | Beverly, Massachusetts | 08/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can only echo the extravagant praise of my fellow Amazon.com reviewers. This box, which contains literally everything Karajan recorded for EMI in Vienna, London and Berlin from the 1940's through the early '80's, and its companion volume, which features all of Karajan's opera/vocal recordings for this label, provide a unique opportunity to hear, enjoy and assess the developing career of a great artist. Karajan was arguably the most important conductor since Furtwängler and Toscanini, and we are fortunate that he made so many recordings on various labels. The EMI recordings, many of them from relatively early in his career, are arguably his finest from an interpretive point of view. It is quite instructive to compare the leaner and more incisive sound Karajan elicited from his ensembles in the earlier phase of his career, with the more bloated textures he created with the BPO (and, to a lesser extent, from the VPO) during his later period. Though no admirer of von Karajan would want to be without his greatest efforts for DG, the early EMI recordings convey an elemental vigor and cogency that are only fitfully recaptured in his DG recordings. Interestingly, many of the later EMI recordings included here (such as the Sibelius symphonies from the late stereo/early digital era) are superior both sonically and interpretively to his DG recordings from the same period, further confirming my hunch that Karajan did his best work for EMI.
Of course any anthology of this kind will have its ups and downs, both from an interpretive and a sonic point of view. So, for instance the heady excitement of his early Mozart recordings with the VPO is somewhat dulled by indifferent monaural recordings. Nor is Karajan's first Beethoven cycle with the Philharmonia as perceptive as his classic 1963 cycle with the BPO for DG, superbly played though it is. But one should not make too much of these comparisons in light of the consistently high standard of excellence found in this 88-CD set, to say nothing of its status as one of the most extraordinary bargains ever offered by a major label (less than two dollars per CD from many sellers on this website). Certainly there are many great performances here, including at least four which in my estimation have never been surpassed: a monaural Vaughan Williams "Tallis Fantasia" and Britten "Frank Bridge Variations" with the Philharmonia, a Bruckner Seventh with the BPO from 1971 and an early digital Sibelius Sixth, also with the BPO. Some of the early VPO performances are particularly incandescent (Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth, for instance).
In addition to symphonic repertoire this box also contains numerous overtures and lighter fare, all done to a turn. Concertante works abound, featuring such estimable soloists as Dennis Brain (in his famous account of the Mozart Horn Concerti), Dinu Lipatti (in Mozart's Concerto no. 21), Alexis Weissenberg (in the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos), Oistrakh Richter and Rostropovich (in the Beethoven "Triple Concerto"), James Galway (in the first Mozart flute concerto), etc. But of course it would be impossible to list everything of merit in this set. I have owned at one time or another, in various formats, about half of these recordings. I am gradually making my way through those with which I am unfamiliar, and am finding that my appreciation of Karajan is enhanced with virtually every new acquaintance. I am also impressed by the quality of the digital transfers of material which I had previously heard only on LP (or in previous CD incarnations). I'm not certain whether EMI has gone to the trouble of securing new remasterings in every case, but the sound seems better focused overall, with minimal tape hiss and a better sense of space around the instruments than before. Of course, nothing much can be done to improve the dry string timbres in some of the earliest mono recordings.
In sum, then, this collection is unmissable-- whether you are a Karajan fan or a listener interested in the history of conducting and twentieth-century orchestral performance practice. Since the range of repertoire is extraordinarily broad--from Vivaldi to Bartók-- this box could also serve as something like a comprehensive introduction to the standard repertoire for a beginner in classical music. Purchase it as a gift for a music student, or donate one to your local public or college library.
And while you're at it, don't forget to order the companion box containing dozens of operas ranging from Mozart to Strauss, plus a number of choral masterpieces (Bach Mass in B Minor, Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Haydn's Seasons, Brahms's German Requiem). You can obtain both boxes for less than it will probably cost you to keep your SUV on the road for a month. Walk, ride a bicycle or carpool--and then save the money for this extraordinary opportunity before it fades from view."