"Karajan's direction is exactly as in the studio: majestic, broadly paced without being inert, vast in dynamic range, always considerate to his soloists, unerring in its preparation and clinching of climaxes." ~BBC Music Magazine
Admirers of Karajan will probably own most or all of these symphony cycles from what was probably the pinnacle of the conductor's prolific career. However, if you are unfamiliar with Karajan's work, or well enough acquainted with it to desire further exploration, then this amazingly inexpensive anthology can be enthusiastically recommended. I purchased all of these sets when they came out in DG's previous mid-priced "Karajan Symphony Edition," and I can testify to their consistently oustanding quality, both as performances and as interpretations. As recordings, however, it must be admitted that the sound is of variable quality; sometimes admirably vivid and well balanced, but frequently tending toward harshness, even garishness–particularly in those which come from the early digital era (cf. Bruckner's symphonies 1-3). Too bad Universal didn't see fit to give this magnificent legacy a sonic facelift. Still, the performances are sufficiently worthy of your attention to warrant purchase regardless of these sonic limitations.
Karajan’s Deutsche Grammophon complete recordings is recorded on chronological order. From the “Magic Flute” overture of the 1938 recording used as first recording to the recording of the last in 1989, and the Symphony No.7 of Bruckner. There is no selling separately. It becomes ordering limited production.
Volume 2 of EMI's comprehensive Herbert von Karajan centenary edition gathers virtually all of the conductor's operatic and vocal output for the label in one place, taking up 71 CDs (Disc 72 contains complete librettos in the form of PDF files). I use the word "virtually" because the package omits four posthumously issued archival items taped live during the 1957-60 Salzburg Festivals (Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, Bruckner's Te Deum, and Verdi's Requiem). Otherwise, it's all here.
Domenico Cimarosa succeeded Salieri as court composer in Vienna and was liked and respected by both Haydn and Mozart. He had an eventful life that included a stint working for Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg (he went back to southern Italy because he couldn't hack the cold weather) and imprisonment in old age for having supported the French Revolution. This Dixit Dominus comes from the last stage of Cimarosa's career, after he composed most of the operas for which he is best known today. Even more than most sacred pieces of the late eighteenth century it is extremely operatic.
Haydn himself was in a particularly heightened state of awareness when he commenced writing his Op. 33 String Quartets, even going so far as to suggest in a letter to music-loving friends that these quartets were 'composed in an entirely new and special way'. It had been ten years since he last wrote for the medium (his Op. 20), and he had learned many things since that time, producing a series of wonderful symphonies and a number of operas.
Jordi Savall is strongly devoted, perhaps more so than any other conductor, to Franz Josef Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross in its orchestral version, the original incarnation of this masterwork; the familiar string quartet and less familiar solo keyboard and oratorio versions came later. Savall, as is his wont, strongly responds to any music with a historic connection to his native Spain; the commission for the Seven Last Words arrived from José Sáenz de Santmaría of the confraternity of the Hermandad, and it was first performed in Cádiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe.