Karajan: Stravinsky Apollon Musagète + Bartok Music for String, P & C - DG 2530 065
Jacket VG+ (minor rippling to laminate on front, else fine)
Italian pressing (white circle label)
This beautiful LP from Deutsch Grammophon (2530 065, Italian pressing, white circle label, stereo) features Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s unsurpassed account of Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète, warmly recorded – unusually for Karajan and the Berliners – at Victoria-Saal, St. Moritz, on 23 August 1972.
Filling out the disc is Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker’s equally stunning account of Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, set down in the fabled acoustics of Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, on 26 September 1969.
Of the Bartok, the writer and critic David Hurwitz wrote for ClassicsToday:
“[Karajan] recorded Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta twice with the Berlin Philharmonic--first for EMI (possibly the worst performance ever of the piece), and then again for DG in 1973, at the absolute peak of his form. The string playing here is staggering: rich, dense, legato, and of such intensity that the sheer weight of tone becomes an almost physical pressure. You won't find the savagery of Reiner or Solti (in his first, LSO version) here, but Karajan's approach carries such conviction on its own terms that there's little to criticize. And he is, in any case, totally responsive to the demands of this intricate score: his third movement has the right sense of nocturnal mystery and terror, for example; and just listen to the superb acceleration he makes in the finale's second subject (one of the few conductors to really get this right). No doubt about it--this is great Bartók.”
Incidentally, there are fine liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket – provided in German, English, and French – by Heinz Becker