Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Brahms, Karajan, Bpo|
Symphony 4 / Haydn Variations / Tragic Overture
Listen to Samples
Karajan's Brahms Fourth--early or late?
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've been reviewing all four Brahms symphonies recorded by Karajan in 1964--each is available on separate budget CDs but not as a box set--and comparing them to his later digital remakes from the Eighties. Although magnificent in symphonies #1 and #2, and supreme in the Third, Karajan's Brahms Fourth is, strangley enough, his least convincing interpretation. This holds true both early and late.
Sound: Although released in 1964 with the other symphonies, the Fourth was actually recorded earlier, in 1963. On CD the sonics aren't clattry and rough like those on the Second and Third, but they aren't as natural and open as the remastered sound given the First Sym. (the only one that DG has remastered). The digital reading dates from 1988, a year before Karajan's death, and it has fine sonics, perhaps a bit muffled in the violins but otherwise warm and closely miked.
Tempos: Karajan stuck to his guns in Brahms, and both Fourths follow the same tempos within a few seconds. In general all the tempos Karajan chooses in this work are moderate, a bit on the leisurely side.
Interpretation: I hesitate to say that such a great Brahmsian didn't "get" the Fourth, but Karajan imparts no sense of tragedy, tension, inner conflict, or even tight organzation. His first movement almost saunters, the finale is faceless for the most part. As with the other symphonies, Karajan got more intense later on, and this very late Fourth is a shade more diriving, especially in the finale. Given that and the improved sonics, the 1988 reading is a clear preference, but neither performance rises to the lofty standard Karajan sets in the rest of the cycle.
Still, despite sounding a bit generic, both Fourths are never less than very good."