Mendelssohn: 5 Symphonies Box set, Import
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There are many things I find great with his Mendelssohn. First of all, he doesn't treat him like another Classical Era wannabe like Claudio Abbado does, who I consider one of the worst conductors I've heard, and secondly, Karajan's readings project majesty and the pure essence of beauty. Mendelssohn was not a particularly "dark" composer. His works, in particular, his symphonies, are light on their feet, but they have this regal, romantic, brightness to them that is really hard to put into words. His music is instantly accessible and that is perhaps why he is so well known.
In this 3-CD set released on Deutsche Grammophon, we get all classic performances with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, which are obviously one of the best orchestras in the world. I find all of these interpretations satisfactory, but I especially enjoyed Symphonies No. 2, 3, & 4 to be outstanding.
This set is obviously a symphony set, but I wished they included Karajan's account of "The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave)," but that's a small gripe for this collection.
If you're new to Mendelssohn or a collector of his works, then this is a fine addition to your collection. Highly recommended.
the Berliner Philharmoniker. Here we are with the best from Karajan's mastery and magic playing
his typical symphonic repertoire. Those performances are plenty of poetics, beauty and the
highest standards of balance, brilliance and care on detail. This is with no doubt one of
the best Mendelssohn's symphonic cycles on record, and a strong competitor with Abbado's or
Dohnanyi's. The highest point in this cycle is undoubtedly a heavenly "Scottish" that doesn't
see a serious competitor to my taste. This is a safe recommendation for anyone looking for
a Mendelssohn complete cycle.
As other revieweers have noted, this is Karajan from a prime period, the early Seventies, and although there is noticeable tubbiness in some of the bass lines, the sound is fresh and open. The reviewer who complained that these performances are "Beethovenish" is right as to scale. One hears a large orchestra playing in the romantic style. Since Mendelssohn owes more to Haydn than Beethoven, it's equally valid to perform him with a smaller orchestra in classical style.
At the time this set was made, no one thought to subject Mendelssohn to period authenticity, however, and in the large-scale approach, Karajan is a master. These performances are full of life, without a hint of museum mustiness or tip-toeing. I've never heard a more passionate "Lobgesang" - Karajan's rivals seem to be sputtering compared to his blazing first movement. Usually it's best with a major composer to buy individual performances of each symphony, but everything in the Karajan cycle is as good as it gets, although the "Reformation" Sym. comes off more solemn than the lively Munch recording. Sample the "Scottish" and "Italian" Sym., which find Karajan and the Berliners in exhilarating form. I won't throw away my Bernstein Scottish from NY or my Guido Cantelli Italian from London, but overall it's difficult to find fault with these marvelous performances at a bargain price.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superb performance. Concerning sound quality I ignore whether the original issues are better, this happens quite often. Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by Alvaro Mateos
Everything about this box set is perfect: sound quality, packaging, text and most of all the performance. It is a welcome addition to any collection. Read morePublished on March 12, 2013 by Harold Henson