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Tschaikowsky: Symphonie No. 6 "Pathetique"
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Herbert von Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Tschaikowsky: Symphonie No. 6 "Pathetique"
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1

Of the four or five recordings that Herbert von Karajan made of this symphony, far and away the best is the one with the Berlin Philharmonic, also on DG and available at a twofer price coupled with the Fourth and Fifth Sym...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Herbert von Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Title: Tschaikowsky: Symphonie No. 6 "Pathetique"
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Dg Imports
Release Date: 2/1/1993
Album Type: Import
Genre: Classical
Styles: Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 028943902021

Synopsis

Amazon.com
Of the four or five recordings that Herbert von Karajan made of this symphony, far and away the best is the one with the Berlin Philharmonic, also on DG and available at a twofer price coupled with the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. This, his last recording, was made after relations with his Berlin players had gone sour and in the early stages of the digital era--a technology enthusiastically adopted by Karajan, despite the fact that all of his digital recordings sound lousy. Don't fall for the "newer is better" marketing pitch. Karajan was a great Tchaikovsky conductor, but in this case cheapest is also best. --David Hurwitz

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CD Reviews

A furious and powerful performance
Alan | New York, NY | 04/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Karajan's final thoughts on this symphony (or at least his final commercially recorded thoughts) are somewhat idiosyncratic but powerful. This performance does take some getting used to. Some sections, such as much of the second movement, are extremely understated. In other places, sudden outbursts are done not just with fury but with a rawness that is surprising with Karajan. The Vienna brass section plays with a primitive sound that is startling at points.Much of the time the performance sounds rather cold and clinical, even uneventful at points, as if Karajan were most concerned with laying out the structure for us. Then he will suddenly startle us with moments of stunning brutality, as if Tchaikovsky's attempts to write something peaceful or straightforward were being shattered. And at the end, the final movement trails off inconclusively, as if Tchaikovsky laid down his pen before finishing the work.This recording may not be for everyone. Perhaps it is not a first choice for this symphony. Karajan's midprice 1970s performance in the DG two-CD set of the last three symphonies is probably preferable if you're looking for your first recording of the symphony.But Karajan fans will find this a fascinating performance. And by any standards, it is a very fine one."
Why autumnal Karajan is great (sometimes)
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"DG has issued Karajan's last (mid-80s) Tchaikovsky symphonies in nicely remastered sound that is quite rich and full, with a fantastic dynamic range. The Vienna Phil. sounds superb, evidencing none of the brashness another reviewer finds (strangely), although there is still a bit of digital sting at high volume. (This small defect hardly qualifies as "lousy" sound, contrary to the unreliable David Hurwitz.)

This performance, like those of the Fourth and Fifth Sym., was video taped and issued on CD simultaneously. It is very carefully done, with impeccable ensemble and balance. Karajan was a technician to the end of his days.

But with at least five other Pathetiques available from him, why consider this one? It did not appeal greatly to critics, perhaps because the autumnal Karajan favored extremes of loud and soft, while also loosening up on his legendary control. I don't hear those flaws here, however. The interpretation isn't remotely quirky or unmusical--in fact, I love this Pathetique for its understated eloquence and for the unquestionable mastery of the Vienna Phil. To anyone with open ears, this is a glorious, songful reading.

The problem really isn't Karajan's--it's political. Critics continue to promote two huge biases against this great conductor. The first, that he was a Nazi, the second, that he practically ruled European music from the podium between 1954, the year Furtwangler died, to his own death in 1989. I wish people would be honest enough to say, "Don't buy this CD. The conductor was a Nazi and a megalomaniac." Instead, they mask their prejudices by unfairly criticizing his performances. To be sure, Nazism was the most extreme form of horrendous social injustice, and Karajan was a part of it. The stain is inescapable, as for some people the stain of anti-Semitism is inescapable with Wagner.

All I can do, as someone who loves great music-making, is to send out these capsule Amazon reviews, doing my best to point out when Karajan lives up to his greatness or falls below what one expects. I do the same with every conductor, and Karajan deserves no less. Highly ecommended.

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