Herbert von Karajan - The First Recordings (6 CD box set, APE)
Herbert von Karajan - The First Recordings (6 CD box set, APE)

Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Audio CD
SPARS Code: ADD
Number of Discs: 6 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 1.09 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

CD 01
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No.7
(VI.1941)
01. Poco sostenuto-Vivace
02. Allegretto
03. Presto
04. Allegro con brio
Staatskapelle Berlin
Herbert von Karajan

05. Ludwig van Beethoven – Leonore III (15.IX.1943)
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
Herbert von Karajan

Richard Wagner – Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
06. Prelude to Act I (II.1939)
07. Prelude to Act III (IV.1939)
Staatskapelle Berlin
Herbert von Karajan

CD 02
Johannes Brahms – Symphony No.1
(6-11.IX.1943)
01. Un poco sostenuto-Allegro
02. Andante sostenuto
03. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
04. Adagio – Allegro non troppo ma con brio
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
Herbert von Karajan

05. Richard Strauss – Don Juan (16-17.IX.1943)
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
Herbert von Karajan

06. Richard Strauss – Salome – Tanz der sieben Schleier (14.IX.1943)
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
Herbert von Karajan

CD 03
Antonin Dvorak – Simphony No.9 “From the New World”
(17-18 & 21-22.VI.1940)
01. Adagio-Allegro molto
02. Largo
03. Molto vivace
04. Allegro con fuoco
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

05. Johann Strauss II – Overture to Die Fledermaus (21.X.1942)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

06. Johann Strauss II – Kunstlerleben (7 & 17.VI.1940)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

07. Johann Strauss II – Kaiserwalzer (9.VI.1941)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

CD 04
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No.35 “Haffner”
(X.1942)
01. Allegro con spirito
02. Andante
03. Menuetto-Trio
04. Finale Presto
Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Torino
Herbert von Karajan

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No.40 (X.1942)
05. Molto allegro
06. Andante
07. Menuetto: Allegretto-Trio
08. Allegro assai
Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Torino
Herbert von Karajan

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No.41 “Jupiter” (X.1942)
09. Allegro vivace
10. Andante cantabile
11. Menuetto: Allegretto-Trio
12. Molto Allegro
Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Torino
Herbert von Karajan

CD 05
Piotr Il’ych Tchaikovsky – Symphony No.6 “Pathetique”
(23.VI.1939)
01. Adagio-…-Andante mosso
02. Allegro con grazia
03. Allegro molto vivace
04. Finale: Adagio lamentoso-Andante
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

05. Bedrich Smetana – Vltava (6.VI.1940 & 9.VI.1941)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

CD 06
01. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Die Zauberflote (9.XII.1938)
Staatskapelle Berlin
Herbert von Karajan

02. Gioacchino Rossini – Semiramide (X.1942)
Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Torino
Herbert von Karajan

03. Carl Maria von Weber – Der Freischutz (13.IX.1943)
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
Herbert von Karajan

04. Luigi Cherubini – Anacreon (V.1939)
Staatskapelle Berlin
Herbert von Karajan

05. Johann Strauss II – Der Zigeunerbaron (21.X.1942)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Giuseppe Verdi – La Traviata (X.1942)
06. Prelude to Act I
07. Prelude to Act III
Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Torino
Herbert von Karajan

08. Giuseppe Verdi – La forza del destino (II.1939)
Staatskapelle Berlin
Herbert von Karajan

The Start Of Something Big

These recordings are of both historical and musical interest. How could they be otherwise? They’re the first recordings of a man who 25 years after his death still evokes praise, scorn and indifference among music lovers.

The performances have both the hallmarks of a young musician looking to make his interpretive mark on the world and the musical traits that came to be Karajan trademarks over the decades. A well-balanced, well-developed orchestral sound that was his own, coupled with interpretations that are mainstream. The youthful indulgences on display here – the occasional unwritten rallentando, the stretching of a rest to achieve clarity, etc – are just that, youthful. These are gestures that were eventually dropped from the Karajan ethos in favor of an approach that elevated the forest – rather than the trees – of musical interpretation.

The sound is generally good, better than I expected, though the top end can become a bit shrill and the winds don’t have the greatest presence.

Seen with 20/20 hindsight, these recordings were the start of something big, that big being the eventual career that Karajan carved out for himself. Would that career have happened were these recordings all one had to go on in determining musical value and interest? No. Would that something big have happened had EMI not promoted Karajan so heavily in the 1950s? No. Still, when viewed through the prism of today, these recordings do display traits that one can see as being echt-Karajan, even at these early dates. And, they are highly musical performances that can be enjoyed without the need to toss about the caveats one often sees when discussing performances from early in a musician’s career.

Ultimately, this is a set for Karajan fans only. And even that’s a stretch – I’m a pretty big fan, and even I didn’t bother picking up this set until it dropped below $10 on amazon. For me, this set rounds out my near-complete Karajan collection. For most others, acquiring these recordings can hardly be a priority.

Recommended for fans.

4 Comments

Leave a Reply