Ever since Beethoven wrote his last piano sonata and called it "Opus 111", the number 111 has enjoyed certain kudos in musical circles, and 2009 marks the 111th anniversary of Deutsche Grammophon.
Over 11 decades, the label's philosophy has always been “the greatest recordings by the greatest artists in the world” and now they showcase this with this incredible 55 CD box set.
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.
Although best remembered for his devotion to the core Austro-Germanic repertoire, Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan did flirt with the English repertoire in the '50s and early '60s.
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.