Combining the forces of two of the 20th century´s greatest musicians – Yehudi Menuhin and Herbert von Karajan in their only recorded performance together – this magnificent programme marks a high point in filmed classical music. Both features, Mozart´s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Dvorák´s “New World” Symphony, were directed by master film-maker and long-time Karajan collaborator Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear). Bonus: Herbert von Karajan in conversation with Yehudi Menuhin (on Mozart) and Prof. Joachim Kaiser (on Dvorák). Special bonus feature: Previously unreleased rehearsal session prior to Violin Concerto No. 5!
With the Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony resounds with melodic force, the Eighth is a masterful blend of grace and wit, and the Ninth - directed by Karajan himself - is a vital and explicitly dramatic reading of Beethoven's revolutionary work.
Karajan surmounted this pinnacle of the choral-symphonic repertoire - which Beethoven himself called "the greatest work I have composed" - no fewer than four times in the recording studio, but only once live and on film: in this unique document from the 1979 Salzburg Easter Festival. The atmosphere of Salzburg's Festspielhaus and festival audience adds a special frisson to this conductor's classic interpretation of the Missa solemnis.
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.
Herbert von Karajan directs the Berlin Philharmonic in an Italianate take of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and an assured rendering of the Fifth, while the "Pastoral" Symphony, conceived and derected by Hugo Niebeling in 1967, is a revolutionary mix of styles - Fantasia meets Expressionism meets film noir.