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3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 25 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00004R7X5
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #203,493 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Symphonic Suite: Scheherazade, Op. 35: 1. Largo e maestoso - Lento - Allegro non troppo - Tranquillo
2. Symphonic Suite: Scheherazade, Op. 35: 2. Lento - Andantino - Allegro molto - Vivace scherzando - Moderato assai - Allegro molto ed animato
3. Symphonic Suite: Scheherazade, Op. 35: 3. Andantino quasi allegretto
4. Symphonic Suite: Scheherazade, Op. 35: 4. Allegro molto - Lento - Vivo - Allegro non troppo e maestoso - Lento - Tempo come I
5. Capriccio Italien, Op. 45: Andante un poco rubato - Allegro moderato - Andante - Allegro moderato - Presto - Piu presto - Prestissimo
6. Ouverture solennelle '1812', Op. 49: Largo - Andante - Allegro giusto - Largo - Allegro vivace

Product Description


Whenever Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra came to London in the 1950s and 1960s, the queue for tickets on the first day of booking would coil round the Royal Festival Hall not once but twice. Listening to this CD version of a famous 1967 Polydor recording of the great man at work, one can understand the attraction. The disc includes three Russian works; Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade with Michel Schwalbe's solo violin playing like a hypnotist's fob-watch; Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien with stunning brasses; and the 1812 Overture where even the terrifying cannons sound musical. The very disc itself seems to have a sense of occasion. Karajan makes what is very much a performance recorded rather than a recording performed. It is as if Sheherzade herself were wielding the baton and spellbinding the Sultan night after night. No orchestra and conductor weave this sort of magic today. Only the hasty marketing lets the side down as it cannot even be bothered to unify the spelling on the sleeve. Which is it to be, DG? Sche or She? --Rick Jones

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Jan. 16 2001
Format: Audio CD
The distinction this recording of Sheherzade is its sonic balance between soft and loud passages. This is especially evident in the third section. Other recordings tend to soften the volume here, with the result of making the movement practically inaudible at lower volume settings; this recording's third movement has no such defect. The DG engineers were not "afraid to turn up the volume." The strings are glowing and the double basses truly resonante in the third movement. The recording, strangely, does have thinner low-end resonance in the other three movements. Nevertheless, this is more than compensated by the even-handed treatment the DG engineers gave the overall recording. The orchestra's playing is the typically excellent quality one would expect from the Berlin PO and Herbert von Karjan.
The Capriccio Italiane is among the most enjoyable and powerful interpretations I have heard. The playing is energetic and the sound is full-blooded, though slightly thin on the low-end. Karajan's account of the 1812 Overture is an added bonus to the disc, bringing the total time to nearly 80 minutes.
I would recommend this historic 1967 recording as an addition to one's collection of Sheherazade recordings. It is a reference to an earlier age, in which more primitive sound quality simply gives way to the musical gifts of one of the world's great orchestra-conductor pairings.
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Format: Audio CD
The only reason that I don't give this recording a full 5 stars is the sound. Although, the Original Bit Image Processing that DG has used to restore this performance is quite successful, the recording still fails to have a full sound in the lower sounds like the rolling of the tympani and the pounding of the bass drums. Also, somewhat problematic is the cymbal crashing. They don't ring as fully as on more modern recordings. Having said that, the spirit of the piece is incredible. I must say the violin solos by the concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic are among the best I've heard. Such challenging notes are hard to bring off beautifully and in this recording they shine brightly and bring a whole new meaning to the Symphonic Suite. In fact, I understood more fully who Scheherazade was when I heard the violin solos. The conducting on this piece is superb. Jessy Norman once said that Herbert von Karajan creates a magic carpet for a singer. It is true whether there is a singer on that carpet or just a listener. His ability to take you to another place through his conducting is truly amazing. Knowing that von Karajan made numerous recordings of various pieces, I am suprised he never made a digital recording of this piece. Perhaps, it is because he felt there was nothing more to say.
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Format: Audio CD
...then this is the recording for you. Unfortunately, those of us who own modern digital systems might find this a disappointing buy. The Scherezade is gorgeous and passionate and the 1812 is firey, but the 1969 recording lacks the pure highs and the resonant lows that one would expect. Furthermore, the choir on the 1812 is weak, unbalanced, and stages an ear-tweaking vocal free-for-all. I would heartily recommend this album to anyone who is looking for a profound Scheherezade, and whose sound system is older than I am. -Michael Richardson, 21
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