This double CD is part of a re-release of classic recordings on the Deutsche Gramophon label, and it certainly shows the heights to which classical recordings can aspire. I bought this CD purely because I wanted to listen to Mozart's Requiem, and this was one of the first recordings I came across when I went looking for it. Personally, I never particularly enjoyed Mozart until I heard the Requiem on this CD, so this review will focus on that particular recording.
The first CD contains Symphonies 39, 40 and 41, which are beautiful recordings in and of themselves. While they are certainly pleasurable to listen to, and among Mozart's better works, they do not compare to the passion and beauty of the Requiem.
The Requiem was Mozart's last work - it was unfinished at the time of his death, but was later finished by one of his students, giving us the version that we hear today. One of Mozart's biographers quoted him as saying, just before his death, "Did I not say that I was writing this Requiem for myself?" Whether this was the case or not is lost in history, but the sombreness and passion of this Requiem must have been influenced by Mozart's sense of his own impending mortality.
This recording is fantastic, in that it captures the flavour and essence of the Requiem - it is passionate, without being grandiose and the emotions that it conjures up can seem almost overwhelming. Karajan always conjures up a fantastic performance from the orchestras he conducts, and this recording is no exception. I have since heard other recordings of the Requiem that are more subdued - I could not help but think that they couldn't conjure up the same emotional reaction, and therefore didn't compare to this recording.
If you like passionate, beautiful, heart-felt and emotional music, or if you want music that can conjure these emotions in you, I recommend that you purchase this CD post-haste.