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Brahms: Symphony No.1, Op.68, Schumann: Symphony No.1, Op.38

Herbert von Karajan , Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.69 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Symphonie Nr. 1 C-moll Op. 68: 1. Un Poco Sostenuto - Allegro
2. Symphonie Nr. 1 C-moll Op. 68: 2. Andante Sostenuto
3. Symphonie Nr. 1 C-moll Op. 68: 3. Un Poco Allegretto E Grazioso
4. Symphonie Nr. 1 C-moll Op. 68: 4. Adagio - Allegro Non Troppo Ma Con Brio
5. Symphonie Nr. 1 B-dur Op. 38 - Fruhlings-Symphonie: 1. Andante Un Poco Maestoso - Allegro Molto Vivace
6. Symphonie Nr. 1 B-dur Op. 38 - Fruhlings-Symphonie: 2. Larghetto - (Attacca:)
7. Symphonie Nr. 1 B-dur Op. 38 - Fruhlings-Symphonie: 3. Scherzo. Molto Vivace
8. Symphonie Nr. 1 B-dur Op. 38 - Fruhlings-Symphonie: 4. Allegro Animato E Grazioso

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The performance of the Schumann is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the history of mankind. Thick, coagulated string textures with nary a woodwind in sight give plenty of ammunition to those who claim that Schumann couldn't orchestrate. The Brahms symphony is a bit better, but not much. Herbert von Karajan really was so much less successful in the basic German repertoire than he wanted everyone to think. That's probably why he recorded it so many times. No matter--this is not recommendable at all. --David Hurwitz

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bull's Eye! June 15 2004
Format:Audio CD
To me, this is THE Brahms' 1st. If one were to ask me if I liked Brahms' 1st, I'd say "yes, the Karajan recording". The sound is excellent (excellent balance of instruments, and good dynamics for the time), the playing is phenomenal, and the interpretation is perfect for this symphony. Karajan took a broader approach to this symphony, allowing the architecture to show. The tempos are rigid, and sometimes a little on the slow side, especially in the first movement. The textures and thick counterpoint are very transparent as a result. The expressive lines in the symphony are allowed to come out on their own, without exaggeration.
I strongly prefer this recording over the newer Karajan recording that comes with complete set of Brahms' symphonies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Look for better performances and engineering June 13 2003
Format:Audio CD
Karajan conducts with his trademark smoothness, which works well with the soaring strings in these pieces. But, his lack of edge and attack results in a lack of excitement and involvement. For me, this condemns these recordings to background listening. Jochum, Solti (boxed), and Abbado had better success.
Sonically, the Brahms seems compressed for a DG recording, which results in a lack of depth. Worse yet, the orchestra was recorded with microphones separated too far apart so instruments appear on the far right or far left. This was a technique of early stereo to impress the listener with the extreme separation, and to contrast it with monophonic recordings; however, it is distracting and not realistic. The DG engineers did better with the Schumann (recorded 8 years later), which sounds more blended and natural, and opens up with more depth and detail.
No one seems to want to agree with the main editorial review, probably because these performances are not abysmal. However, there are better performances available, and certainly better engineered recordings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Brahms No. 1 July 8 2002
Format:Audio CD
This was the first recording of Brahms's first symphony I ever heard and it's the one I always return to. The power and majesty in the outer movements is breathtaking. The sense of torment especially in the first movement is gripping and wonderfully balanced by the serenity and quiet grandeur of the second movement. Where this performance really touches the soul though is in the final movement. The famous horn solo after the pizzicato introduction radiates like the first rays of sunrise and just when you think it couldn't be more beautiful, a sublime flute lifts the whole symphony into the light. This really is one of those moments (like the re-entrance of the orchestra after the first movement cadenza in the violin concerto) where Brahms gives us a glimpse of heaven. The rest of the movement is played with an energy and grandeur which sweeps you away in a river of pure joy. For me this is the definitive recording of the greatest first symphonies ever written.
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By John Kwok TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
I strongly disagree with David Hurwitz's abysmal review of this CD. I believe this is one of the finest recordings Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic ever made of Brahms' 1st Symphony. The same can be said for Schumann's 1st Symphony too. Karajan had a fine understanding of Brahms' and Schumann's rich orchestral textures at this time; both performances are vibrant, and exhilirating, filled with the warm ambience you'd expect from the Berlin Philharmonic's string and wind sections. Karajan was a perfectionist with regards to sound quality. That's why he recorded these symphonies, as well as Beethoven's, several times. Yet these earlier recordings hold up better than this later ones if only because his conducting became less inspiring towards the end of his career. Karajan fans will certainly want to add this CD to their collection.
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Format:Audio CD
I must admit that I do not agree with the editorial review. I am familiar with the complete Schumann symphony cycle that Karajan recorded. And after repeated listening I must testify that he indeed had a deep understanding of these much-underrated masterpieces in the symphonic repertoire. The thick textures are characteristic of Schumann's orchestration and can even be found in the chamber music. Many conductors in the past made changes and "improvements" to the orchestration and I believe Herbert Von Karajan's recordings was one of the first to convince people of the "rightness" of the composer's ideas. Listen to what a great orchestra and a great conductor can to for the Schumann. The Brahms is quite exciting as well. Perhaps the most successful attempt at this very dramatic work of all those he recorded. Just listen to the timpani in the opening movement. Thrilling!
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST EVER! April 13 2000
Format:Audio CD
This is an excellent Brahms. Karajan's conducting is superb. The sound is wonderful. Anyone who needs a version with outstanding sound and excellent performance can buy this disc with confidence.
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