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CD Review

Herbert von Karajan

The Complete Decca Recordings

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
Decca 4780166 9CDs 600m ADD Recorded 1959-65
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This collection of recordings has been available before in several formats and mostly on single CDs. So it is rather welcome to have it in a box set, reminding us of how superb the sound and interpretations of these legendary recordings were.

The Strauss tone poems were recorded almost 50 years but they come up as fresh as a whistle but Karajan also brings firmness and beauty to classic works which he recorded time again especially the Beethoven 7th and the last two Haydn symphonies. I also found the Brahms Third utterly invigorating, a work which is not usually one of my favourites and the interpretation of the "Tragic Overture" which rounds off the disc is also quite masterly.

Karajan is also a dab hand at Johann Strauss as we can all imagine and his justly lionized disc of excerpts from Adam's "Giselle" also should not be missed. The Tchaikovsky ballet suites are perhaps slightly too earthbound, although the recordings are indeed gorgeous. The same goes for the Peer Gynt suites and also the fine reading of Holst's "The Planets" where Karajan whips up quite a bit of excitement in all departments.

Most collectors will have these recordings already as some were already being issued in the early 1980's But for those who are new to Karajan's art in his anniversary year will find much to treasure and enjoy in this superb collection.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech