Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although Herbert von Karajan earned his deserved reputation from his full-blooded vigor and the dramatic performances he gave to the most notable works in the symphonic catalog, he is equally revered for the lush quality he brought to the slow movements of the major works in the repertory. ADAGIO opens with what is perhaps the most famous of all slow movements: the Adagietto from the Mahler's Fifth Symphony. Sorrowful and full of longing, this performance is one of the most heart-rending ever recorded. As an ingenious contrast, the next piece is the Canon by Johann Pachelbel, a work whose undulating counterpoint has made it an instant classic for all lovers of Baroque music.
The other major Baroque standout in addition to the ever-popular Air by Johann Sebastian Bach is Albinoni's Adagio. With its floating string section atop a distant organ drone, the work is given a stately and noble treatment by Karajan. But the Berlin Philharmonic's legendary string section under Karajan's baton is heard at its sumptuous best with the achingly sad Andante doloroso from Grieg's 'Peer Gynt' and the CD's fitting close, "Valse triste," a doleful waltz by Sibelius.