Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Divertimento No. 15 K287 / Rite of Spring
This is an unreleased live recording from the 1970's and proves once again, without doubt, that Herbert von Karajan was truly deserving of his legendary status as a conductor. This recording features the Berlin Philharmoni... more »
This is an unreleased live recording from the 1970's and proves once again, without doubt, that Herbert von Karajan was truly deserving of his legendary status as a conductor. This recording features the Berlin Philharmonic recorded by the BBC in London. Karajan's Rite of Spring wowed critics and offers a fascinating comparison to his 1977 studio recording. Testament's transfers of the original tapes are flawless.
Elegant Mozart precedes bland, homogenized Stravinsky
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/08/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Testament label has been licensing live Karajan performances from the BBC recently, and they have been of a high standard (I wonder why the BBC doesn't release them on their own label, BBC Legends?) Here from 1972 we have a Mozart string divertimento K. 287 and Le sacre, both recorded in the studio by Karajan. I bought the duplication to see if Karajan changed his ways in concert. His Mozart has suffered form accusations of being glib and glossy -- now ironic if a time machine could take us back and reveal that Mozart used the same approach. Here the sheen is nowhere near as objectionable. This is sophisticated playing of astonishing unanimity, yet it has a soul peeking through. All but the most confirmed Karajan bashers should appreciate its elegant refinement, a quality that suits the Rococo. The dry acoustics of Royal Festival Hall don't seem to bother the excellent recorded sound, although it is a trifle distant.
Karajan was off and on again about Stravinsky; he recorded only a handful of works in the studio; he omitted the Firebird and Petrushka even though the former appear in concert. Karajan's studio accounts of Le sacre never clicked with me -- or the composer, who sarcastically dismissed the first one. Suavity and elegance don't belong in this barbaric world of pagan sacrifice. Here in concert the tangled woodwind writing that begins the work is fairly homogenized; it's not at all spiky, to sue a favorite critical term. Karajan doesn't seem to appreciate the tension and mystical suspense of these rites. The rest of the performance indulges in the same smoothed-out sophistication as both studio readings. A disappointment."