Esoteric have produced a remarkable transfer that preserves beautifully the hall sound, spatial information and detail. The brass and mass strings have excellent detail, revealing a lot of subtle harmonies and variation – a boon for anything Wagner. This contributes to an overall impression of sophistication and restraint and goes perfectly with Karajan's Wagner.
Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments. He achieves revelations of horizontal clarity, allowing no contrapuntal strand to emerge with an unwanted accent or a miscalibrated dynamic.
“this DVD brings compelling accounts of the master at work, visually as well as aurally. There is a powerful intensity to the Beethoven overtures and the opening of William Tell is beautifully done, with glorious playing from the Berliners…There is plenty of fascinating archival material to see; and within the maestro's obviously glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, he emerges as a musical communicator of warmth - and humour too. A most revealing issue.” (The Penguin Guide)
Over twenty-five years after his death in July 1989, the controversial Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan remains an enigma. He was the most successful conductor in the history of classical music. Many of those recordings - of Italian opera, of Wagner and Richard Strauss, of Sibelius, Beethoven and Brahms - are treasured by music lovers around the world. Yet, even at the peak of his fame, his performances were variously criticised for being too opulent, too manicured, lacking warmth or spiritual depth.
DG's 20-bit transfer reveals more tape hiss than before, while the orchestral image is better focused, with more definition at the bottom end. Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments.
Bruno Walter's recording of the Siegfried Idyll with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra is radiantly beautiful–one of the most affecting of all this great conductor's statements. The horns wobble and nick a couple of notes, the ensemble isn't always perfect, and little things happen in the winds, but the sense of what the music is about–the character of the solo playing, the phrasing, and the wonderful feeling of delicacy and joy–is unmatched by anyone, except perhaps Karajan. The "cradle song" quality of the oboe solo early in the piece is captured to perfection, and the music moves along without ever being in a hurry. The end just floats away without seeming to drag or slow down at all. –Ted Libbey