Karajan had a short but interesting stint for Decca in the late 50's and early 60's where he made a number of interesting recordings chiefly with the legendary John Culshaw. This Seventh Symphony has been available before but this new transfer is absolutely top-notch on clarity and precision. I still marginally prefer his Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra version of 1962 for astonishing excitement but the VPO are also at their brilliant best in this, one of Karajan's favourite symphonies. The Allegretto is particularly miraculous for its sense of deep mystery and unique Viennese mystery. The faster movements display the conductor's unerring sense of discipline, always an important feature in this symphony.
The Haydn #104 is similarly informed with the same superb qualities, namely an iron grip and profuse development of melodies that confirm the conductor's reputation as a firm classicist. Ivan March's copious and entertaining notes reveal some intrinsic qualities of these legendary recordings. I hope that Decca will also find space for the wonderful Mozart #40 which originally accompanied the Haydn. A must for all Karajan devotees.
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech