The compact disc, as a sound carrier, was still on the horizon when Herbert von Karajan urged his record company to utilize the new digital technology in his recordings. Consequently Karajan's Magic Flute, recorded in 1980, became the first release of a Deutsche Grammophon digital production and was first released on LP.
"The set also includes two magnificent Kubelík recordings from the 1960s with Bavarian Radio forces. Schoenberg's Gurrelieder (with tenor Herbert Schachtschneider as a vocally heroic Waldemar) is superbly played and sung, and Kubelík's conducting is as dramatically involving as any. It sounds better than ever in this latest mastering. Finally, there is utter enchantment: the 1964 recording of Mendelssohn's music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (with Edith Mathis and Ursula Boese as soloists), prefaced by a fascinating rehearsal of the Overture, released here for the first time. The booklet includes excellent notes and photographs" ~International Record Review
A rewarding release… As to the Mandarin, first impressions suggest a gloved fist on Ozawa's part and a general softening of attack since [his earlier DG recording from] 1975… Ozawa is strong on sensuality - those all-pervading glissandos, the seduction games and the languidly teasing sequences that lead to the chase… As to the Concerto for Orchestra…the Bostonians' Bartókian pedigree - it was, after all, Koussevitzky who commissioned the work — guarantees a certain élan and refinement… Ozawa is best where the going gets frantic (his finale is terrific, especially at the outset, and he plays Bartok's more concise original ending)… Ozawa's virtues are intelligence, alertness and a fine ear for detail… (Gramophone [8/1995] reviewing the Bartók recordings, originally released as Philips 442783)
…Summarising, the team of Järvi and his talented young chamber orchestra players evoke Beethoven's wilful and often irascible (but lovable) polemics and character like few before them. The Eroica is fully charged and brilliantly executed. It joins the ranks of élite performances, together with an 8th Symphony whose real stature is newly revealed and celebrated. The Polyhymnia International engineers provide an immediate and fully transparent recording, with a measured amount of ambience, despite two locations being involved.
Given the depth, range and quality of the Deutsche Grammophon catalogue, it’s hardly been difficult to put together another anthology of great recordings and great artists. The structure is as before – here are 53 original albums (including three double-sets), featuring the great names of Deutsche Grammophon’s recording history, presented, once more, in alphabetical order of artist. Claudio Abbado leads off with a complete Carmen and Krystian Zimerman rounds off with his memorable account of the Chopin Ballades.
Like Gilels, Brendel treats the Op. 35 Variations as far more than a poor relation of the Eroica Symphony finale. His approach has less of the urgent, seemingly improvisatory thrust which makes the Gilels DG performance (on LP only) so compelling, but the sharpness with which he characterizes each variation is a delight, each time bringing a moment of revelation, and often relating this essentially middle-period work to much later inspirations. The six Bagatelles of Op. 126 equally find Brendel giving these fragments a weight, concentration and seriousness to reflect what else Beethoven was writing at the time. There is a gruffness of expression with charm eliminated. The third Bagatelle is the more moving for its simple gravity, and only in the final one of the group does Brendel allow himself to relax in persuasive warmth. Fur Elise makes a simple, haunting prelude to the group and the six Ecossaises a jolly postude with Brendel evoking the bluff jollity of Austrian dance music.