Notes & Reviews:
The Times, 11th April 2014
Poignant documents, these, from the battered and bruised late 1940s.
The Karajan Official Remastered Edition comprises 13 box sets containing official remasterings of the finest recordings the Austrian conductor made for EMI between 1946 and 1984, which are now a jewel of the Warner Classics catalog. This 10-CD box unites orchestral, choral, and operatic performances recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic in the immediate aftermath of World War II, when Karajan's talent was first nurtured by EMI's legendary producer Walter Legge. Gramophone has said that these recordings 'vividly capture their troubled times and transcend them.'
For many, Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) - hailed early in his career as 'Das Wunder Karajan' (The Karajan Miracle) and known in the early 1960s as 'the music director of Europe' - remains the ultimate embodiment of the maestro. The release of the Karajan Official Remastered Edition over the first half of 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the conductor's death in July 1989 at the age of 81.
He was closely associated with EMI for the majority of his recording career (specifically from 1946 to 1960 and then again from 1969 to 1984). EMI's legendary producer Walter Legge sought him out in Vienna just after World War II and the long relationship that ensued embraced recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonia (the orchestra founded by Legge), the Berlin Philharmonic (of which Karajan became 'conductor for life' in 1955), La Scala, Milan, and the Orchestre de Paris.
American Record Guide, January/February 2015
The performances here are mostly superb: Karajan was a mature artist when he recorded them. The Tchaikovsky 6 is probably the best performance here. It is almost as daring as the Furtwangler performance that preceded it, but its expression comes from orchestral color and dynamics. The tempo relationships are clearer and more restrained than Furtwangler or Mengelberg, and there is much more freedom and breadth than Toscanini. Closest of the great early recordings of the work is probably Stokowski.