Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although there are some fine individual records of the Schumann symphonies Karajan's complete set is in a class of its own and one hopes they will all eventually find their way on to CD in DO's Galleria series. In the case of the Rhenish, the playing of the Berlin Philharmonic is quite magnificent, and in all five movements Karajan seems to find exactly the right degree of momentum to provide a balance between freshness and the essential Schumann gravitas. However, one has to report that the digital remastering.—although no one could now complain that Schumann's orchestration was 'thick'—has not been entirely beneficial. There is a loss of sonority and even a touch of stridency in brass fortissimos. The ambient effect remains, but the
analogue warmth has been reduced and there is a distinct loss of weight in the bass.
In the Mendelssohn Reformation Symphony this is rather less striking, although in the finale the famous chorale, Einfeste Burg has the brass much less rounded than on the original LP. Karajan is at his finest in the Andante, which has a natural lyrical flow, just right for Mendelssohn, but in the first movement allegro his touch is heavier— one feels he is thinking a little of Schumann. Nevertheless, this is a distinguished coupling and one adjusts to the brightness of the sound balance.
-- Gramophone [4/1988]
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