In light of the "chill-out" trend of the 1990s, major labels released many albums of slow, meditative pieces to appeal to listeners who wanted relaxing or reflective background music. Deutsche Grammophon's vaults are full of exceptional recordings of classical orchestral music, and the performances by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are prominent in the label's catalog. The slow selections on Karajan: Adagio are in most cases drawn from larger compositions, though these movements are frequently anthologized as if they were free-standing works. Indeed, many have come to think of the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 as a separate piece in its own right, largely because of its evocative use in the film Death in Venice. Furthermore, the famous Canon by Johann Pachelbel is seldom played with its original companion piece, the Gigue in D major, let alone in its original version for three violins and continuo; it most often appears in an arrangement for strings.
"…Karajan isn't performing the work: he's living it. The sweep and swagger of the opening theme, the imperious power of the battle music, the expansive monumentality of the closing pages: this isn't an act for Karajan; this is life itself. (…) anyone who loves either Ein Heldenleben or Der Helden Karajan who doesn't already know this recording is urged to check it out." 4,5/5 ~AMG
Esoteric have produced a remarkable transfer that preserves beautifully the hall sound, spatial information and detail. The brass and mass strings have excellent detail, revealing a lot of subtle harmonies and variation – a boon for anything Wagner. This contributes to an overall impression of sophistication and restraint and goes perfectly with Karajan's Wagner.
Karajan could be so expressive, with the big sound of the Berlin Philharmonic, in Vivaldi's very famous Magnum Opus. Solo violinist Michel Schwalbe is also terrific, quiet and bold alternately, as needed.
…After winning several prizes, she was exempted from school to dedicate herself to her art. When she was 13, conductor Herbert von Karajan invited her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic: she made her public debut on stage in 1976 at the Lucerne Festival, playing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major. In 1977, she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival and with the English Chamber Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. At 15, Mutter made her first recording of the Mozart Third and Fifth violin concerti with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic…
Karajan's way with Mahler is smoother, less anguished or conflicted than many critics like, but he isn't glib or glossy–this is excellent, insightful conducting. I can't imagine why DG doesn't have more faith in this recording or why critics haven't discovered it. It's not as though Karajan is a hidden talent. After collecting Das Lieds from Rattle, Bernstein, Horenstein, Tennstedt, Kubelik, Giulini, Salonen, Sinopoli and Walter–the list goes on–I sitll rank this version almost as high as the Klemperer. Certainly no one has done it better since. - from Amazon.com