Wonderful performances if you like this style for Mozart
Alan | New York, NY | 10/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, I'm a Karajan fan. And I like a lot of his recordings that are dismissed by many.So it's not too surprising that I like these recordings. And if you like the late Mozart symphonies played by modern instruments with a largish complement of strings, you may well like them, too. Despite the fairly large number of players, Karajan keeps textures light and airy (something that wasn't always true in his late-in-life Mozart performances). There is a great deal of detail in these performances. Tempi are generally quite fast. These are energetic yet very graceful performances. To my ears, very little of it sounds heavy (though I do think that number 35 sounds a bit heavy at points). Quite the opposite, in fact.I don't mind that few of the repeats are taken, but that will probably disqualify these performances for some people.If you don't like lots of legato in your Mozart, if you don't like orchestral playing that puts a high value on sheer beauty of sound in these works, you won't like these performances. But if you do like that sort of Mozart, you will probably like these performances. Of that style, they are exemplary. The slow movements, quite beautiful but not romanticized, are especially fine.For whatever it's worth, I do also like Mozart on period instruments. I can't help but suspect, though, that Mozart would have been very happy with performances that sound as beautiful as these do and that he would have enjoyed hearing these symphonies with a larger complement of strings than he would have had."
Not the only versions you'll want, but still fabulous!
Alan | 06/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On another Karajan/Mozart CD, the Amazon reviewer wrote that Karajan's interpretations are too smooth and not detailed enough for many people's tastes. Fair enough. But you actually find a lot of wonderful music on this inexpensive 2 CD set. First of all, the tempi are excellently chosen. Karl Bohm's tempi (with the same orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, so an interesting comparison) are sometimes too slow and almost cumbersome. The third movement of the 41st has a fine pace that accentuates the waltz-like feel of the the music. The 1st movement of the 40th, which is often taken too quickly or too slowly, is just right. Secondly, there is actually a lot of fine detail in the winds, and the big lush sound of the Berlin strings is an enjoyable treatment of Mozart, after the abundance of chamber and period recordings of his symphonies. This is a fun set that includes many musical gems. However, you might want to try the versions of Barenboim, Szell, Bohm, or Marriner as well."
Mozart at his best
Steven A. Peterson | Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL) | 03/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a terrific version of a set of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's later symphonies, Numbers 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, and 41. Herbert von Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic and the end result is splendid! I have reviewed a few of von Karajan's interpretations of works before, and it appears to me that a lot of people just don't much like his conducting. However, this--to me--is fairly typical of his body of work, and the quality is high. And it helps to have that wonderful instrument, the Berlin Philharmonic, as a partner in making music.
Writing about each of the 6 symphonies on this 2 CD set would make this review way too long, so I'll just take a look at one of these (my favorite of the group, as a matter of fact): Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
The First Movement. . . . Those familiar opening phrases, with the strings fairly singing. The music moves in an arc until a crescendo. Von Karajan's conducting produces, for me, a kind of tension in this movement and the pace is lively (Molto allegro). The Berlin Philharmonic is in good form here (as with the other 5 symphonies as well).
The second movement is taken at a slower pace (Andante), and it is an elegiac and reflective work. Here, I use elegiac in a manner different than its standard definition. In the Wikipedia, an elegy is defined differently from its normal usage. E.g., William Wordsworth said that poetry should come from "emotions recollected in tranquility." And that is the sense of this second movement to me. The movement flows smoothly. The liner notes indicate that some critics have said that this symphony has a "tragic" air to it and is filled with "melancholy." Sorry, I don't sense that, certainly not in this slow movement, which I see as pensive--but not melancholy by any means.
The third movement is another treasure, beginning with a majestic passage. The pace is quickening over the second movement (Allegretto). Toward the end, the woodwinds and horns sing out.
Finally, the exquisite closing movement. The pace quickens further (Allegro assai). This movement "livelies up" the listener/audience. A wonderful way of concluding this masterpiece of Mozartiana.
This particular symphony as well as the other 5 surely demonstrate Mozart's genius. And they also display the art of Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. If you like Mozart's symphonies, you should enjoy this 2 CD set. "
Mozart's Late Symphonies
Ed | Taipei City, Taiwan | 12/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mozart's late symphonies is music treasure and should be appreciated by any classical music lover. I have two favorite versions of these works. One is conducted by Karajan, the other is by Sir Charles Mackerras.
To make comparison, the highly praised Mackerras's interpretation does not necessarily beat Karajan's. Take No. 39 for example, I think Karajan's interpretation is better. Mackerras's is somewhat too fast and Karajan's rhythm is dance-like and quite appropriate. However, Mackerras's No. 40 is more impressive. Karajan's No. 41 is grand and Mackerras's is stylic. Karajan's first movement of No. 38 is more exciting than Mackerras's.
Karajan is an essential Salzburg Austrian and breathed Mozart's music air since child. His Mozart is one of the most Mozartean: Style, singing and dance-like rhythm, which are fully expressed in these CDs. The sound of 70's Berlin Philharmonic is perfect."