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Strauss: Orchestral Works / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic [5-CD Collector's Edition]


Release Date: 10/18/2011 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001607102  
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lothar KochAntonio MenesesLeon SpiererWolfram Christ,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 5 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Karajan was a masterful Strauss conductor, no question about it, and a remarkably consistent one too. When these digital recordings were issued, they were generally derided as less successful than his famous efforts dating from the 60s and 70s. With few exceptions (such as An Alpine Symphony and the Sinfonia Domestica), he recorded each of the tone poems as many as three times between DG and EMI, and appreciation of the quality of his last efforts was hampered by harsh, glaring digital sonics. This last problem was largely ameliorated in the Karajan Gold remasterings, which are contained in this box (except for the two concertos and the Dance of the Seven Veils, which are the older analog performances).

While the differences
Read more between DG versions may be small, they are nonetheless significant. In these final traversals, Karajan let go of some of the smoothness and extreme legato of his prior versions, making the strings less prominent, and letting the players dig into the music with stronger accents and a bit more rhythmic emphasis. You can hear this, to take a typical example, in comparing the “death” passage in Death and Transfiguration (sound clips), where the 1983 performance is notably more vivid and impactful than in 1974, fine though it undoubtedly is. And the “transfiguration” coda in the later version has never been equalled by anyone else, ever.

Interestingly, although the sound samples don’t show it, this last Death and Transfiguration is also a touch quicker than before, to exciting effect. For the record, Karajan’s early Decca Strauss with the Vienna Philharmonic (Till, Don, Death, Zarathustra) is uniformly faster than any of his later versions of those works. This last Metamorphosen also flows more strongly than previously, although “exciting” isn’t a word I would ever use to describe Strauss’ darkly moving elegy for 23 solo strings. Karajan also turns in his best Ein Heldenleben and Don Quixote (with Antonio Meneses) in this set, while his first DG Zarathustra remains unmatched (the Decca, despite being the one used in “the movie,” doesn’t really compare sonically). In Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel there’s little to choose between decades, save for the general differences in approach already mentioned, which for me tip the balance in favor of the last recordings. This is particularly true of Don Juan, which Karajan always played more deliberately than most.

In the Four Last Songs and the Capriccio closing scene, Anna Tomowa-Sintow sings very well, but she won’t erase memories of Janowitz in this music, or the many other famous sopranos who have excelled at either or both of these pieces. However, she does offer one of Strauss’ most beautiful orchestral songs, Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland, as a considerable bonus. It’s a pity that Karajan never made a complete disc of the orchestral Lieder; they are gorgeous and still relatively undervalued. In sum, you really can’t go wrong with this set as a handy, reasonably priced way to acquire a fine selection of essential Strauss by one of his greatest 20th century exponents and his world-class orchestra.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895-1896; Germany 
Date of Recording: 2/1983 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
2. Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Date of Recording:   
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
3. Concerto for Oboe in D major, AV 144 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lothar Koch (Oboe)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1945-1948; Germany 
Date of Recording: 9/1969 
Venue:  Jesus-Christe-Kirche, Berlin 
4. Don Quixote, Op. 35 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Antonio Meneses (Cello), Leon Spierer (Violin), Wolfram Christ (Viola)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896-1897; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/1986 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 42 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5. Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1986 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 15 Minutes 58 Secs. 
6. Salome, Op. 54: Dance of the seven veils by Richard Strauss
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1/1973 
7. Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1898; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1985 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 46 Minutes 47 Secs. 
8. Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Leon Spierer (Violin)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/1982 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 25 Minutes 24 Secs. 
9. Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  David Bell (Organ)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911-1915; Germany 
Date of Recording: 6/1981 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
10. Concerto for Horn no 2 in E flat major, AV 132 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Norbert Hauptmann (French Horn)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1942; Germany 
Date of Recording: 3/1973 
11. Four Last Songs, AV 150 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1948; Germany 
12. Lieder (6), Op. 56: no 6, Die heiligen drei Könige by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1906; Germany 
13. Capriccio, Op. 85: Interlude "Moonlight Music" by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
14. Capriccio, Op. 85: Kein Andres, das mir so im Herzen loht by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano), Paul Wolfrum (Baritone)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
15. Metamorphosen for 23 solo Strings, AV 142 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1945; Germany 

Sound Samples

Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Prelude (Sonnenaufgang)
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Von den Hinterweltlern
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Von der großen Sehnsucht
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Das Grablied
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Von der Wissenschaft
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Der Genesende
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Das Tanzlied - Das Nachtlied
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30: Das Nachtwandlerlied
Don Juan, Op.20
Concerto For Oboe And Small Orchestra In D Major: 1. Allegro moderato
Concerto For Oboe And Small Orchestra In D Major: 2. Andante
Concerto For Oboe And Small Orchestra In D Major: 3. Vivace - Allegro
Don Quixote, Op.35: 1. Introduktion (Mäßiges Zeitmaß)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 4. Variation 1 (Gemächlich)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 5. Variation 2 (Kriegerisch)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 6. Variation 3 (Mäßiges Zeitmaß)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 7. Variation 4 (Etwas breiter)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 8. Variation 5 (Sehr langsam)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 9. Variation 6 (Schnell)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 10. Variation 7 (Ein wenig ruhiger als vorher)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 11. Variation 8
Don Quixote, Op.35: 12. Variation 9 (Schnell und stürmisch)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 13. Variation 10 (Viel breiter)
Don Quixote, Op.35: 14. Finale (Sehr ruhig)
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche), Op. 28
Salome, Op.54 / Scene 4: Salome's Dance Of The Seven Veils

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