Notes and Editorial Reviews
Freer and more spontaneous-sounding than his BPO performance, Karajan's characteristic molding of phrase is more natural and persuasive with the Vienna orchestra.
This is the most successful of the three Tchaikovsky symphony recordings that Karajan has made with the Vienna Philharmonic in conjunction with Telemondial video projects. The sound is less conventionally balanced than in Karajan's last Berlin recording for DG, issued in 1978, but particularly with the weight of bass that CD provides, and the extra clarity that the digital system brings, making cloudy textures reasonably transparent, the warmly reverberant recording is on balance easier on the ear than the relatively fierce-sounding earlier one. DG want to
emphasize that though this new recording has been made in conjunction with a video project, the audio has not been treated simply as an adjunct. Certainly in Symphony No. 4 more than in Nos. 5 and 6, there is positive gain from a freer, more spontaneous-sounding performance. As before the playing here of the Vienna Philharmonic cannot match that of the Berlin Philharmonic in Karajan's previous versions for DG, in knife-edged precision. The Berlin performances are both purer and more refined, but the moulding of phrase characteristic of Karajan in Tchaikovsky is here more natural and persuasive with the Vienna orchestra, even when in the second group of the first movement he is a shade more expansive. So the Vienna clarinet edges into that section with more of a tenuto than his Berlin counterpart, delightfully so, while by contrast the Vienna oboe, much edgier of tone than the Berlin one, plays the opening melody ot the second movement Andantino more freshly with less obtrusive tenutos. In the Scherzo the Vienna woodwind is less brilliant and precise than the Berlin, but perhaps the biggest advantage this time comes in the extra excitement, the sense of adrenalin flowing, in the finale, again not quite so crisply disciplined.
This is a symphony which has always put Karajan on his mettle, and with the provisos I have given this new recording should please all his admirers.
-- Gramophone [10/1985]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Herbert von Karajan
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1877-1878; Russia
Date of Recording: 09/1984
Venue: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna
Length: 43 Minutes 5 Secs.
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