News Column

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, etc Berliner Philharmoniker/Karajan WARNER CLASSICS, FOUR CDS 24/40

June 20, 2014

Andrew Clements

This year is the 25th anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan, and Warner Classics is taking it as an opportunity to remaster and repackage the best of its extensive archive of the recordings he made for EMI. Thirteen sets are planned - 100 discs in all - including performances with the Philharmonia, La Scala Milan and the Vienna Philharmonic as well as the Berlin Philharmonic, ranging between 1946 and 1984. Karajan was never reluctant to return to works he had recorded before, and there is inevitably some duplication among these sets. This selection of Sibelius symphonies - together with a disc of tone poems, including En Saga and Tapiola, from the late 1970s and early 80s - almost exactly replicates performances with the Philharmonia collected in the box Orchestral Spectaculars from Handel to Bartok 1949-1960. Though Karajan's Sibelius was greatly admired in its time, these performances now seem very mannered and over-moulded, the textures too smooth and dense, the gestures too forced; even the account of Tapiola seems less elemental than it does on Karajan's more famous recording for Deutsche Grammophon.

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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