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CD Review

The Karajan Edition

Karl Steins, oboe
Norbert Hauptmann, horn
Herbert Stahr, clarinet
Manfred Braun, bassoon
Gidon Kremer, violin
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
EMI 66101 - 1972 (Mozart), 1976 (Brahms)
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To be honest, I requested this disc primarily to hear the Brahms. I had earlier reviewed that recording on a two disc EMI "fforte" release. I wondered if they would change anything in the mastering. Well, they didn't and that's just great! This is one of the finest interpretations and recordings I have ever heard. My only codicils in my earlier review was that you might not want to pay the price of a two-disc set, even if at budget price, since some of the couplings might not be particularly appealing. Well, here it is on one disc and it sounds just as good and will be a bit cheaper and has a wonderful coupling.

I won't go into a lot of detail about the Brahms. I suggest you read my earlier review. The bottom line is that this is one of the finest performances and recordings of the Brahms that I have ever heard. If you haven't already purchased the "fforte" set, grab this one! It is true that this recording was 'my first time' with this piece (and the allusions are apt). Still, I wondered, over the years since I purged my LPs, if it was as wonderful as I recalled. When the CD incarnation came out I grabbed it. It was everything I recalled.

Add to that this wonderful Mozart piece. The writer of the notes attempts to make a justification for the coupling by arguing that Brahms' concertos are actually sinfonie concertantes, but the coupling is odd. Still, it is also excellent. The soloists, from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, are marvelous. The integration with the orchestra is masterly. This is not 'period' Mozart, but it sounds just marvelous to these non-period ears. It also is evidence that Von Karajan's reputation does rest on some truly fantastic recordings. He was a great conductor, and if I find his later recordings lacking a bit, and having too much legato, this EMI release is a great one.

I had some minor reservations about recommending the "fforte" set, mostly that you might not want some of the couplings. There are none at all in my recommending this one.

Copyright © 1997, Robert Stumpf II